Mary Pat Johns desired to write since she was a little girl. She loved to read and pored over books, words, song lyrics—any type of written word. She even remembers telling her mom that she wanted to be an author.
She also wanted to teach, so she spent many years teaching high school. "It was all about seeing the light flick on when students figured out something they didn't know before." Mary Pat married, had children, received another degree, and continued to work in the field of education, but the dream to write never faded.
"Those were good, happy years, but I could hardly find time to connect with the Lord in a meaningful way, much less think through a writing idea. When I would talk to Dave about writing, he suggested I wait until the house was quiet."
Once the children graduated from high school, Mary Pat started writing more, but it took a while to discover what writing genre best suited her. While they lived in Tyler, Texas, she began a Young Adult fiction work, but set it aside when their son deployed to Afghanistan, and she and her husband moved to Victoria, Texas. Eventually that work was lost to cyberspace which, in retrospect, proved to be a blessing.
"The YA novel was a good idea, but my heart wasn't in it anymore. It did make me determined to write only what God had for me to write, instead of my own ideas."
In a new city, they started completely over with her husband's construction business, making new friends and finding a new place to attend church. Mary Pat's primary task was helping her husband with his business; nevertheless, she found time to take an online writing course.
"At that point, the house was quiet, but I wasn't quiet. I was unsettled with all the changes and didn't have the focus I needed to write."
The year of 2011 proved to be a busy one with two college graduations, two engagements, and two weddings of their children. "No wonder I couldn't focus. I was tired from the excitement, but knew my next step was to join the teaching team for the Ladies Bible Study in our church. Yet all the while, the desire to write was a fire burning on the inside."
Within the next year she attended Faith Family's yearly Inspire Women's Conference and taught a workshop on "Getting an Action Plan." After that event, the desire and discipline of writing began to mesh. "I had never before been able to sustain a commitment to writing. But mostly, I was afraid. Afraid I would do it wrong, do it badly, or not do it at all."
Also during those years, she joined a local Toastmaster group. Learning how to speak before an audience was an enormous confidence builder. In 2013 she attained Distinguished Toastmaster status for speaking and leadership.
"I can't remember all the speeches I wrote and presented, but in the process, writing became easier. What I really conquered, though, was the fear that had paralyzed me for years."
The last year of her journey to Distinguished Toastmaster status, she began writing devotionals and journaled on a regular basis, and finally figured out what she's passionate about—"I love to teach and write about the Good News. God's Word, the Bible, is our visible link to an invisible God. Shouldn't it follow that we understand what the Bible is about and how to apply it to our lives?"
The same year, she submitted a story to Chicken Soup Publishing about her son's deployment to Afghanistan. She continued to write devotionals, but needed to establish writing credits for the day she submitted a book-length work. In February of 2015, her story, "The Song and the Dance" was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope and Miracles.
"Being published by a traditional publishing house has always been my dream, but there's always another level to achieve. Becoming an established writer usually begins with shorter works like published articles and stories. I also pray over a short list of book-length topics I'm interested in; however, I have planted my feet like cement and tell the Lord that this time, book ideas will be his, not mine."
At long last, squeezed in between family dinners, babysitting, and holidays, her house can almost be considered "quiet".
So, amidst all her many blessings, Mary Pat takes those moments—and writes.