JoAnn Reno Wray particularly
enjoys writing inspirational,
personal experience, and humor.
Always a Passion for Words
© JoAnn Reno Wray
In 1986 my husband, Roger, and I were in Ohio visiting my parents. At thirty-seven, I still struggled to feel accepted by Mom in many ways.
The Lord began reconciling our often stormy relationship in late August 1979, the day Roger, our children, and I left Ohio for our new Oklahoma home. At age 30, for the first time in my life, I heard Mom say, “I love you so much. Please don’t go.” Those longed-for words were healing for both of us.
During that 1986 Ohio visit, I was ecstatic over a sale I’d made to a well-known magazine. Mom, legally blind, asked me to read it aloud. When I finished a long moment of silence followed as Mom and Dad brushed tears away. Feeling awkward in the quiet, and still amazed my article was in print, I said, “I can’t believe they bought this and published it!”
Mom, indignant, said, “Why? It’s a good story! Wait. I want to show you something.”
With that Mom, a large woman, set her rocker in motion, propelled herself upright, then gingerly climbed the stairs. She rattled around in the master bedroom closet and soon returned carrying a red-leather, spiral-bound book with fancy gold script on the cover that read, “Scrapbook.” She handed it to me and announced, “There. Look at that.” She plopped in her rocker, watching and waiting.
I leafed through more pages, discovering stories marked with bright red A pluses from various teachers through the years. Mom also saved articles published in the school and city newspapers. I stared at photos of me receiving prizes for writing or artwork. In one, I accepted first prize for posters I’d drawn and slogans I wrote for a safety campaign run by the power company. Poems were saved along with cards, letters, drawings, and more.
Now I teared up. Mom had failed to voice her love for my first thirty years. Praise was rare, but here was proof — she was proud of me!
Mom returned my gaze with a fierce glow. Then said, “Why is it so surprising you’re selling your writing? You’ve always been a writer. God gave you that gift. I didn’t understand it, but you’ve always been creative.” She paused, then added, “I think it’s wonderful.”
My journey into published writing began in 1974. I’d gone to Columbus College of Art and Design on scholarship, honing my skills with brush, pen and ink, chalks and more. For writing, I had no groups available, no teachers, and didn’t even know where to look for advice on writing or marketing. I discovered The Writer Magazine and Writer’s Digest. Through books, I learned from the best the writing community had to offer.
Today, it astonishes me to know that over 3000 of my articles, inspirational stories, poems, greeting cards, medical and technical articles, columns, and fillers published in newspapers, newsletters, magazines, literary journals, both in print and online. God’s grace also opened the door for my articles to be in multiple book compilations.
Along the way, I’ve enjoyed teaching and encouraging fellow writers in local writing groups, critique groups, online groups, at small conferences, and several national Christian writing conferences. It’s been an exciting journey that will continue throughout eternity.
|JoAnn dressed as her alter-ego, Petunia Poppins, talks with Sarah Rhodes.|
After battling congestive heart failure for eight years, Mom graduated to heaven in 1994. Countless times when writing seemed too hard, I heard Mom’s words reverberate in my heart to spur me on, “You’ve always been a writer.”
In God’s eyes, and Mom’s, I will always be a writer whether my words are published or not. More important, this writer must write. Just as breathing air, I must take in and give out the words I capture. How humbling to be allowed to handle the very substance with which God created the universe, that which frames the worlds and holds them in their assigned positions: Words.
God’s passion with words created us and everything that ever existed and ever will. Wonder of wonders, He allows those He calls to write the sacred privilege of working with that same powerful element. How dare we hesitate? Do what you are: Write.
JoAnn Reno Wray has been married to her favorite husband, Roger, for 42 years with two grown married children and five grandchildren. From her Broken Arrow, OK, home she runs her creative business, EpistleWorks Creations, (website being renovated) offering writing, editing, and graphic art services to clients. Her blog is Epistles from the Heart. Each Christmas, she dons her red apron to bake from 200 to 650 dozen cookies, creating trays as gifts for friends, family, and charities, while selling a few to cover ingredient costs. Her husband, children, and grandchildren happily volunteer for the Christmas baking frenzy as taste-testers.