We are one month away from the release date of Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God. And because it’s Wednesday, and um, “Wednesday” is in the title of the book, I wanted to highlight some of the endorsers that appear in the first couple of pages.
But I wanted to do so in a way that is also a heart felt thank you to these good people of far greater influence than my own who took the time to not only read the book, but to also write out such thoughtful and beautiful lines that hopefully will inspire others to pick it up. I’ve tried to group these friends and mentors in logical ways in order to highlight a few of them each of the next few Wednesdays in leading up to the book. So here is the first set.
First of all, there is Calvin Miller. Dr. Miller was one of my professors at Beeson Divinity School and left a mark on me not only from his teaching, but also his great kindness and creativity. An accomplished artist and author, Dr. Miller has been influencing the church for decades. I’m humbled and honored at his words:
A huge man and a tiny child walk hand in hand through these pages, then right out of the book and into your heart. Read it for your own edification, if you wish! But be alert! There are other parents you may not have noticed, who grieve quietly and are much afraid. Look hard, they’re not usually out in the open, but they are there in the shadows of desperation. They need this book. Care! Then buy it for them. Then read them the first page and leave them alone. From that one page they will begin their own journey through Gethsemane. Then in the company of Michael and his Savior, their neediness will dissolve in wisdom.
Then there is Dr. Robert Smith, Jr., another professor of mine from Beeson and, quite frankly, the greatest preacher I have ever heard. Dr. Smith taught me the value of not only intellectually engaging the Bible, but feeling it in your bones. Of not only teaching the text, but allowing the emotional impact to flow through you. I’m so thankful for him and his endorsement:
Finally comes an approach to human crisis that debunks faith in faith and faith without fright. For Michael Kelley, untried and untested faith is not little faith—it is no faith at all. This work commends faith in the God of the Scriptures who both delivers and sustains in the midst of crisis. Michael is no arm- chair observer; instead he is an eyewitness who believes that one cannot get to the banquet table in Psalm 23:5 without going through the valley in Psalm 23:4.
Next is Dr. Timothy George. Dr. George is the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School. For this alone, I am in his debt, for seminary for me was a wonderfully formative experience. But Dr. George also emphasized to me the importance of understanding our roots in the faith and the history of the Christian church. So honored by his writing:
Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever walked through what the psalmist called the Valley of the Shadow of Death? Have you ever where God could be found in the midst of your pain? If so, this book is for you. It is a true story about Michael, his son Joshua, and cancer. But it is also a story about hope and the God whose love reaches us in the deepest depths, the God whose middle name is Surprise! You must read this book!
Finally is my friend and mentor Randy Hall. Randy is the CEO and founder of Student Life, and my boss for the time I lived in Birmingham. I especially appreciate his words about parenting here because of the lasting commitment I have seen in him to his family:
Parenting is a word that should make us all tremble. The daily joy comes with multiplied challenges for anyone blessed with the responsibility to lead and care for little lives. Anyone who knows Michael and Jana respects that for their family, parenting has taken their family on a journey face-to-face with leukemia, with too many needles, hospitals, and departures from the “normal” parenting journey. In Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, Michael’s “father” voice shares the difficulty of the most simple things like playing baseball and the joy of looking back to see that the journey has led them to the heart of Christ.
I’m excited next Wednesday to share endorsements from Jared Wilson, Jonathan Leeman, and Trevin Wax.
You can pre-order Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God here.