The translation for “one hundred” occurs 86 times in both my New Living Translation of the Bible and in the NIV. It is often a unit of measurement or weight (100 shekels), the number of items set aside as a tribute, the number of people or livestock, the yield of a crop, or required payment. It is sometimes a rounded figure, as when at the feeding of the 5000, the people sat down in groups of 100 (or 50).
I started writing this present collection of 100 stories on Easter, 2021, the first easter in 65 years that I celebrated without my wife Joice. She was my Editor and read everything that I wrote, so I miss her input greatly. My daughter and granddaughter sometimes take up the slack, but when I write, I think of my wife and what she might suggest.
In a sense, then, many stories in my present book remind me vividly of my last time with Joice, prior to her entering the hospital, from which she never returned home. From the time she entered the hospital to the evening she left me it was two weeks, and I was with her every day. I didn’t get tired of telling her that I loved her, again and again, and I believe she heard me. She figures somehow--usually in my mind and imagination--in every story that I write.
Joice loved to put signs around the house, I often look at them, and in them are stories. One behind me on the dresser says, “I have found the one whom my soul loves.“ Another is buoyant with this message on a small plaque, “Happiness is being married to your best friend.” It stands, alone now, and reminds me of the great happiness we had in our marriage. Marriage may not be eternal, but, for me, the story of love is.
I enjoy writing, not just stories, but academic articles as well, because writing stimulates my thinking. For my birthday, my Waco granddaughter subscribed to a website for me called “Storyworth,” and each week, I answer questions that she or family members send me. It may, in time, morph into a book.
Joice and I joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics in the summer of 1956. We had been married in May and went to the University of Oklahoma that summer to learn about linguistics, with practice in Native American languages. We wanted to be Bible translators, but we knew that we would be learning new languages and cultures and we needed to be prepared. It was the beginning of a long story.
We studied linguistics for two summers in Oklahoma and in between, spent over three months in southern Mexico, participating in a “jungle camp.” It was only a part of our story, and we had little idea of what was ahead of us in Papua New Guinea. It was probably good that we didn’t--we might have backed out because God allowed us to have some serious testing in our “story”. I know that it is part of the Christian life to work through trials and temptations and we were sometimes not fully prepared for ours.
I won’t go into details here, but God protected us in ways that were marvelous, when we looked back on them, although they were sometimes frustrating when we went through them. Many Christians have experienced similar things.
When I write stories, some idea comes into my mind and, as I think about it, I decide if it is a worthy story. In 2009, I self-published a book called “Short Yarns and Tall Tales.” The 101 stories in it are mainly humorous, but the print font is 10 point, so probably not many old people read it. Prior to that book, I had written a storybook for my grandchildren, based mainly on the lives of animals. It also included a few “poems.”
I kept on writing and Joice kept editing my stories and encouraging me. She would not be surprised to know that I have now written over 570 short stories which are self-published in 6 books. That is a lot of writing.
Of course, it pales in comparison with famous authors. John Grisham, for example, published 50 novels (so far), not all to do with the law and lawyers. But, according to the Guinness World Records, Ron Hubbard is the most prolific writer of all time. He published 1084 works between 1934 and 2006 and more than 250 were fiction. However, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling is the best-selling book series in history, having sold more than 600 million copies worldwide.
C.S. Lewis has done well, too. His seven books on The Chronicles of Narnia have sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages, with editions in Braille as well.
We know that “of the making of books, there is no end.” The number of new book titles released annually is around 4 million, with 500,000 to 1 million through traditional publishers. In addition, there are at least 1.7 million self-published titles each. So, I am one in a million!
Everyone has a story--many stories--and they can be interesting and helpful to others, particularly one’s family. Think of how bereft we would be without the stories of the Bible, reminding us to thank God every day for His instructions and help. And, by the way, according to Guinness World Records, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.
However, keep in mind that there is a difference between hearing or reading a story and understanding what it means, especially with my stories.