Two books (beside the Bible) have had enormous influence on my spiritual life.

One is an unlikely source, about a ministry to gang homies, that is laced with profanity—Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. G (as he’s called) interacts with Scrappy, who begins to see the worthlessness of his life. Scrappy says, “I have spent the last twenty years building a reputation for myself . . . and now . . . I regret . . . that I even have one.”

Father G comments, “Scrappy discovered, as Scripture has it, ‘that where he is standing is holy ground.’ He found the narrow gate that leads to life. God’s voice was not of restriction, to ‘shape up or ship out.’ Scrappy found himself in the center of vastness and right in the expansive heart of God. The sacred place toward which God had nudged Scrappy all his life is not to be arrived at, but discovered. Scrappy did not knock on the door so God would notice him. No need for doors at all. Scrappy was already inside.”

The other book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, is a collection of Eugene Peterson sermons. Speaking on Philippians 4:13, he says, “There are a great many things we can do little or nothing about. The weather, other people’s emotions, the economy—all are out of our hands. . . . But one enormous difference is in our hands: We can offer up the center of our lives to the great revealed action of God’s love for us. . . . We can cultivate the vitality and centering of life that develops out of risking our lives in a relationship with God. When we do that, we find Paul’s statement neither extravagant nor fanciful: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”  (Peterson quotation edited)

Two totally different pastors, both saying the same thing.

Eleanor Gustafson is a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Her passion is God, and then loving people and writing. Her short stories and articles have appeared in national and local magazines. Her pallet of experiences helps bring color and humor to her fiction. In many of her stories, Ellie explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God’s overarching work of redemption. Her books include Dynamo, a story about a man, his horse, his faith, and his God, and An Unpresentable Glory about a mysterious man, sick and begging for secrecy, and the woman who ignores all alarm bells to care for him. Ellie has three children and eight grandchildren. Visit her at http://www.eleanorgustafson.com

 

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Eleanor Gustafson
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing novelist Eleanor Gustafson. She’s built houses, made her own maple syrup, and she plays with “word plants.” I think you’ll enjoy what Ellie has to share!

Ellie, tell us about your book.

Eleanor Gustafson

Eleanor Gustafson

An Unpresentable Glory is a many-dimensioned love story. A stranger, more dead than alive, shows up in Linda’s garden. She cares for him and only later learns who he really is. Some fascinating story elements are woven together in this complex tapestry that blazons the glory of God. Read More →

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Saint Gregory

What country was the first Christian nation?

I couldn’t have told you, either, until I read about St. Gregory the Illuminator.

Gregory was born in Armenia, and following a Christian upbringing, he returned to Armenia, where the king appointed him secretary. After a major military victory, the king instructed Gregory to lay wreaths and laurels in a pagan temple as thanks to the gods.

The young man refused.

The king was ticked. “If you don’t worship the idols, I’ll have to kill you.”

Gregory stood his ground. “I believe in Jesus and can’t worship anyone but the Lord God.”

Furious, the king had Gregory tortured and thrown into a deep pit to die.

But God….

A lady up top began lowering food to him—and kept it up for thirteen years! She also passed along news from the upper world, and Gregory started praying for the nation and for sick individuals. Folks began paying attention to this man in a pit. He prayed; they were healed.

Thirteen years later the king himself became ill. Doctors could do nothing for him. His sister had a dream about Gregory and persuaded the court to fetch the pit dweller.

Hauling him up by ropes, they said, “You pray for people, and they are healed. Can you heal the king?”

He prayed, and sure enough, the king was healed. The grateful monarch sent Gregory out to evangelize the entire country. Led by Gregory, the Armenians destroyed their pagan temples and built churches on their sites. Before long, Christianity was adopted as the national religion. Armenia became the first Christian nation in the world.

Are you in a pit? Look up. God’s light and provision sometimes come in unexpected ways.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (See Philippians 4:13).

Eleanor K. Gustafson, author

Eleanor Gustafson is a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Her passion is God, and then loving people and writing. Her short stories and articles have appeared in national and local magazines. Her pallet of experiences has helped bring color and humor to her fiction. In many of her stories, Ellie explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God’s overarching work of redemption. Her books include Dynamo, a story about a man, his horse, his faith, and his God. Ellie has three children and eight grandchildren. Visit her at http://www.eleanorgustafson.com.

 

Dynamo, a Novel by Eleanor Gustafson

Dynamo, a Novel by Eleanor Gustafson

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An interview with Eleanor K. Gustafson and Marti Pieper

Eleanor K. Gustafson

Eleanor K. Gustafson, author

Welcome back to the CAN blog, Ellie. How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?

I have five published novels. The ones still in print are The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David and Dynamo.

I checked out your website, and both books sound intriguing. Ellie, you were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?

There’s far more to publishing books than just writing them. That’s the easy part. Then comes careful self-editing to get a good grade from the publisher. My big learning curve with Dynamo was point of view. Then, the whole marketing business. A lot to learn there, and I’m still a social and technology neophyte. Read More →

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Sundin #D70 ©2008 Linda Johnson Photography web (2)Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing Eleanor Gustafson, who has been published in fiction and non-fiction since 1978! Ellie recently had the book of her heart published, The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David, which has an accompanying study guide, the perfect blend of her fiction and non-fiction background.


CAN Eleanor GustafsonEllie, how did you get into writing? How many do you have published?

As a child, I loved stories and read myself into needing glasses, then began making up stories in my head. When I finally started writing them down, my mother and others advised me to stick to music. Didn’t. Persevered and finally got a number of essays and short stories published – which gave me hope for writing a novel. Did that. My first, Appalachian Spring, was my most successful in terms of sales, but subsequent novels taught me a lot, mostly what not to do. By the time I got to the novel I always wanted to write (The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David) I had it mostly figured out. David is one of my favorite characters in the Bible, and even though sales haven’t been terrific, the response has been excellent. Check out the Amazon and LinkedIn reviews. (Please note: Sales are not the only or perhaps the best criterion in defining success.)


CAN Gustafson bookAbsolutely not. And how did you get your first book contract?

I attended a writers’ conference at Gordon College, manuscript in hand. One person read the first page and muttered that I wrote in Mandarin English. He didn’t elaborate on that. Another well-known author, right after lunch, nearly fell asleep on me. I hadn’t bothered talking with the Zondervan editor, thinking it hopeless, but after she left, someone encouraged me to send her the first chapters. Did. She wanted the entire manuscript, and Zondervan took it on. They also accepted my second novel, Wild Harvest, but because I insisted on a “difficult” ending, the book didn’t sell well. Learning Experience #1. We won’t talk about Learning Experiences #2, 3, 4, 5 – all in my third novel, Middle Night (self-published).

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