A Day In The Life Of Author, Katherine Harms

What is it like to live on a boat and write? And have a ministry? Today, we meet Katherine Harms!

Let’s here her story!

Writing as Ministry and Life

I debated at length how to talk about a day in my life, because I thought at first it was just a question of how I get work done on a manuscript. However, for me to approach the story that way was to accede to a definition of writing that I no longer accept. When I wrote my first book, and even more after it placed third in the Christian Writer’s Guild’s First Novel Contest, I thought that God was calling me to write Christian fiction, Christian novels to be precise, and the rest of my life was something else.

katherine harms

Today, I no longer accept the notion that life can be a project of gluing different pieces together into some more or less coherent object. Life is a unit, and all the parts contribute. A vocation is not a call to carve something out of the secular and call it sacred. The good life is a relationship with Christ that fills every nook and cranny with light and power. Writing is the dominant way that God has called me to testify to him, but even writing is such a broad category that it is hard to nail it down when people ask, “What do you write?” Since I don’t answer, “Romance,” or “Mysteries,” or “Sci Fi,” most people cannot decide what to make of me.

What has my call to write produced today?

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The verses for meditation today in Daily Texts directly correlate to a topic in yesterday’s newsletter from World Mission Prayer League—a principle for managing personal finances. My husband and I are dealing with a debt that is a deep burden, and in both the newsletter and the prayer verses, I found inspiration and strength. I wrote a prayer and a statement of commitment that I will use personally and share with my online contacts who ask for prayer about their finances.

Each morning after quiet time, I log in as online missionary with GMO (Global Media Outreach). I have been an OM for two years, and it is a wonderful ministry. I have met new Christians from around the world. We communicate by writing. I have the great joy to introduce them to life in relationship with Jesus. A few weeks ago I was doubly blessed as one of my contacts told me he and his friends have started a group Bible study under his leadership.

My work as an online missionary has led me to value written prayers. I wrote a short prayer note to my daughter who is enduring deep family strife, and another to a missionary whose daughter is suffering from clinical depression.

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Time to check the weather. Boat people need to know the weather in detail at all times. We will have intermittent showers every day for the next five days. Why did I not finish my laundry yesterday as I had intended? (I won’t say I planned, because if I had planned, I would have done the job.) For me, laundry entails a 20-minute dinghy ride to the office where the laundry facilities are located. A forecast of “intermittent rain” almost certainly means that the “mittent will be “inter” my dinghy rides. I need a frowny emoticon.

When I checked my email, I saw that my pastor needed help with pagination in a book review he is writing for his doctoral studies. It turns out he is reviewing a book that is dead center of my writing call—contemporary cultural conflict—and I knew nothing about this writer. I helped Pastor Kalonji with a trivial process and discovered a new book for my core research. That book and author go on my “to research” list. May it soon show up on a daily time block. Blessing!

Yesterday I was teaching a Bible study here in the marina by this time of day. I write the student handouts and teacher resources for the study, one session each week. When I finish teaching the gospel of Mark, I plan to gather up the pieces and publish them. For the moment, I call my method “Discovery of Truth.” I hope eventually to devise a more creative label.

I go to Facebook to check on an author whose book release I am supporting. I added a prayer for her and then checked my news feed. There, in a note from a fellow online missionary, I found a model for inviting my GMO contacts to choose a Bible study from the many resources available to us. I love the wording of her template for inviting people to study, and I can think of two or three people I should invite right now.

I check my mail for the newsletters I receive from various sources on culture conflict, social activism, political problems rooted in culture conflict, and the like. This reading always takes a long time, and occasionally sends me down fruitless rabbit holes. The rabbit holes are actually part of my ministry, so even if they are fruitless on one day, they may be very fruitful on another. Commenting on the newsletters and in the rabbit holes give me opportunities to testify to faith and to the moral and spiritual values of living in relationship with Christ.

I do exercise political advocacy as part of my commenting ministry, because that is a practice that puts feet on prayers. I am a voting citizen in a country where voting is a civic duty. The founders of the USA wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with the firm conviction that the best way religious faith can affect society and government is through the free expression in the speech and actions of people of faith rather than through the hierarchical control of a state church. I believe that everything in my life is sacred, and nothing is secular. Therefore, I believe that my vote and my opinion are integral to my sacred testimony to Christ’s work in my life. All this writing, political commentary, social commentary, blogs, books, articles and editing—every part of my life is my writing ministry in the name of Christ.

Time for lunch—is there really time for lunch? My husband would dump me overboard if I started skipping meals, so yes, there is lunch. We keep it simple, but I try to make it a real break by doing recreational reading during that time. None of my reading is ever truly recreational, however, because I always find elements in the books I read that become fodder for my writing—blogs, books, and articles.

I am just finishing the novel Thirteen Moons, and my notes from this reading include the raw material for several blog posts about theme, diction, pace and even grammar, although this book had very little material for grammatical criticism. Most notably, it includes valuable commentary and exposition of the problems that arise when worldviews collide. This is my theme as a writer. I know I did not read this book by chance. God is at work in every decision of my life, even something seemingly as trivial as my choice of recreational reading.

After lunch, today’s work plan says, “Thrive! Scrivener.” That means that I will work on the manuscript for my book Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile Culture. Our culture in the US is rapidly becoming quite hostile to Christianity, and crying does not help. The research and writing I have done for the past three years in the realm of culture conflict is the foundation of my work. The structure is the life of Joseph, which demonstrates what a person can do in relationship with God, and what God does when someone remains faithful to him in a culture where the slightest misstep could lead to death. It certainly feels that way at times in the US today. I am eager to finish this book and share it with the many people I meet who feel complete and utter despair over the changes in the country.

The note also reminds me to be patient with the software. I love Scrivener, but I have not mastered it yet. I put the word “Scrivener” after the book title in order to remind myself to take the time necessary if I encounter a new feature that I don’t fully understand. Patience is not my strongest virtue, and I am completely intolerant of unfriendly software. Scrivener is not unfriendly, but it does have many more features than I know how to use. I must learn to see the blessing behind the learning curve.

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This book will be very different from my first published book, Oceans of Love, a book of devotions. Yet the content of that book is quite relevant to the current book. If people want to be happy in a culture that disdains them, they must sustain faith in God. They must make time for prayer, Bible study, and listening to God. I write about the busy, mobile elements in life, but I also write meditations and prayer vigils.

Late afternoon is time for writing one more blog post. This one is a meditation on a hymn. The words of great hymns point me to Scripture. The hymns are written by people whose lives usually bear out the truths expressed in the hymns, and those words help me live through daily stresses. I blog hymn meditations in order to share with others the blessing I receive from that practice.

I don’t have an editing client scheduled for today. I will have a new client beginning next week, so those days will look somewhat different from today. Editing clients must take priority over research and social commentary. After all, my clients have finished their books!

Dinner is the highlight of each day for Larry and me. I love cooking, and he loves eating. Give me a piece of chicken or a chunk of pork or beef, and I can prepare a dinner in your choice of five cuisines: Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Cajun or Old South. I have a much too large collection of cookbooks, vast files of recipes, and I carry a hefty stock of herbs, spices, and my own seasoning blends. Whenever possible, we eat on our big aft deck. Sometimes it is breezy, but we don’t mind. Dinner is usually the beginning of a long conversation that persists till after sunset.

I don’t know why God chose me for this work, but I know it is my calling. Writing, and its various manifestations, call for every gift God has given me. As I research, write, edit and teach, Christ fulfills every longing that used to mar my days performing other jobs. As today ends, I pray as I pray every evening, “Thank you, Lord, for my life.”

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love, blogger at Living on Tilt and at Katherine Harms, Editor

Connect with Katherine!

http://livingontilt.com

www.katherineharms.com

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About The Author

emma right

Multiple award-winning author and copywriter. Children young adult fiction best sellers.

4 Comments

  • Lorilyn Roberts

    Reply Reply March 30, 2015

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Katherine. I wish I could sit with you over lunch and talk about the clash between Christianity and Islam here in the U.S. And throw in some politics. Very few women talk about these things – my mother being the only one who actually enjoys it that I know personally, and I feel lonely at times having lots of deep thoughts and no one to with which to discuss them.

  • Lisa

    Reply Reply March 30, 2015

    Way more busy than anyone I know… so delighted to know you.

  • Janis Cox

    Reply Reply March 30, 2015

    Katherine,
    What an interesting life you lead. May the Lord bless your writing, giving you the time, the energy and the inspiration to finish your next book.
    Blessings,
    Janis

  • emma right

    Reply Reply March 30, 2015

    Katherine, I meant to add to the comment but only got the chance now –i think your life style and exposure to different people etc must give you much that you could use for fiction! Fantastic!

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