Wednesday, April 11, 2018

SACRED JOURNEY - Ward Tanneberg - One Free Book

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 family.
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, and travel.

Why did you write the featured book?
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 unexpected news.

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

Early in 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 desert.

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

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.

Readers, here is a link to the book.
Sacred Journey

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

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Unknown said...

Enjoyed the blog; but what does one say in response until they have read the story. True life experience always brings a bitter sweet aroma with it but moreso if the one reading can relate to the writers life experience. Love how the piece shared gives cause to reflect on how fragile time and moments are together b/c we never know when it may be our last!

Melanie Backus said...

What a book! I would love to read it. Thank you for the opportunity. Melanie Backus, TX

Sandy Quandt said...

Ward, just from what you shared in this interview it shows how amazing your book, and your love for Dixie, is. It sounds like a wonderful addition to anyone's bookshelf.
Sandy Q. TX

Library Lady said...

We have Mr. Tanneberg's books in our church library.
Our readers enjoy his books and I do too.
If I win, this book will be give to the library.
Janet E.

Connie Porter Saunders said...

This excerpt and interview leaves me wanting to learn more about the Tannebergs and their journey.
Connie from Kentucky

Connie Porter Saunders said...

Connie from Kentucky

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.

Ward Tanneberg said...

My thanks to each one of you who have taken a few moments to comment on Lena’s blog interview with me. I know all of you are readers, and some of you are bloggers, too. Most likely you have been a caregiver, or possess firsthand knowledge of our Enemy Cancer. You are acquainted with a widow/widower of a victim of this dressed disease. Be encouraged to share Jesus’ love and compassion with these good friends who’ve been left behind, perhaps with unspoken feelings of wandering aimlessly in their own “valley of shadows.” Blessings as you serve these he loves withspecial agape love. ~W