Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Life of "Daily Loveliness"

I was one of those kids who knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. If you had asked me as early as elementary school, I would have enthusiastically told you that I would follow in my father’s footsteps in corporate management. And like my dad, I would honor God by living a life of integrity and faithfulness in the business world.

True to my word, after graduation from high school, I enrolled in the business administration program of Texas A&M University, eager to blaze my trail into corporate America. Everything was going according to plan—in fact, I was even selected to participate in the business school's honor program—except for one problem.

I didn’t like accounting. Or finance. Or most of the other classes along the way to that business degree. I was only excited about the classes like marketing and advertising, where I could write. (You can read more about that here.)

Long story short, after my freshman year, I switched my major to English and spent the summer as an intern at Word Publishing in Dallas. As soon as I entered the world of Christian book publishing, I was hooked. I knew this is what I was meant to do with my life.

I was going to be a book editor.

Trouble was, I was only nineteen. Honestly, how many teenage book editors do you know? And how many bestselling authors do you think would entrust their manuscripts to a nineteen-year-old?

Didn’t think so.

But the Lord works out His plan in amazing ways. By the end of that summer, I was proofreading professionally. And not long thereafter, an in-house editor at Word made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (or believe!).

She asked me to edit a book.

“The whole book?” I asked her. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” she reassured me. “I’ve seen your work, Jennifer, and I believe in you. Trust me: you’re going to be a great book editor.”

Those words literally changed my life. They were the encouragement I needed to chase my dream. I eagerly accepted the job and have been editing ever since.

Let me introduce you to the woman who gave me my break into book editing. A woman who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. A dear friend, colleague, mentor, and confidant.

A godly woman who went home to be with our Lord a few weeks ago.

NASHVILLE, TENN—The Christian publishing industry lost a colleague and friend when Laura Kendall, longtime editor for Word Publishing and Thomas Nelson, died this week in Nashville, Tennessee. Laura had retired from Thomas Nelson in 2005, after two decades of editing books by bestselling Christian authors including Max Lucado, Billy Graham, Ruth Bell Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Charles Swindoll, Barbara Johnson and Tony Campolo. She was still providing freelance editorial services and consultation from her home in Nashville until last week. Laura fought a brief battle with pneumonia and went to be with her Lord on September 2. She is survived by two nieces and two nephews and many who counted Laura as a spiritual sister and devoted friend.

Laura Kendall was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1938. She earned three degrees including a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (Mercer University, Macon, GA), a Bachelors of Divinity (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and a Masters in Sacred Music (Northwestern University). She worked as a voice teacher and then as an account executive for publicity agency Hahn Crane and Associates in Evanston, IL. She joined Word Publishing (Waco, TX) in 1978 as Director of Publicity and soon moved into an editorial role, eventually earning the title of Senior Editor. Ernie Owen, former Publisher at Word, recalls Laura’s unique gift: “Many authors owe a debt of gratitude to Laura. She had an uncanny sense or feeling for dealing with people and manuscripts.” Laura continued to serve Word and its authors when the publishing company moved to Dallas and later to Nashville (as a division of Thomas Nelson). She officially retired in 2005 but continued working as a freelance editor and consultant. Beyond sharing her professional skills, Laura shared her heart with authors and colleagues alike, and her presence will be missed as both an editor and a friend.

Laura was recognized for her professional expertise but also for many personal talents and graces treasured by her friends. She possessed a trained soprano voice and sang with her choir at Glendale Baptist and was known for her elegance, her love of music, and what one friend called “her daily loveliness.”

* * * * *

As word spread of Laura's homegoing, remembrances and responses poured in from her friends and colleagues. Here are just a few:

* “Treasured memories of Laura with her beauty, charm, grace and deep faith will remain with us always.” (Pat Bianco)
* “She was a thoroughly classy lady.” (Claire Cloninger)
*“May we all enter our golden years with such grace and style.” (Kris Bearss)

Over and over, the same words were repeated as friends and loved ones described Laura:

Grace. Dignity. Elegance. Classy. Lovely. Faithful.

All of these are such fitting descriptions of Laura. She was a woman who truly understood what it means to be an example of dignity, wisdom, faith, and beauty (Titus 2:1-6).

Lord, may we all set such an example of "daily loveliness" for our children, our family, our friends, and everyone we encounter so that You may be glorified in and through us the way You shone through the life of Your devoted and faithful servant, Laura Kendall.

1 comment:

  1. Jen this is great and a fitting tribute. And the words she spoke to you back then are amazingly true.