Life story will add a chapter this summer

As I approached the brightly lit marquee of the Franklin Theatre, my whole body shook with a mixture of nerves and excitement. “World Premiere: Karen Kingsbury’s ‘The Bridge Part 2’” flashed before my eyes and I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

I was moments away from being in the same room as my favorite author, the woman I looked up to most as a writer.

I thought back to the first time I read a Karen Kings­bury novel. Her characters and stories impacted me in ways I had never before experienced through reading.

Through her novels, I discovered my own love for writing and storytelling.

And there I was, almost 10 years later, with the opportunity to hear Karen speak, watch the world premiere of a movie based on one of her books, and meet her for a few brief moments.

Just a few short weeks earlier, my roommate and I had made the spur-of-the-moment decision that we were going to Nashville during spring break to attend this movie premiere. God had even bigger plans for the trip, though, and had worked things out in ways we could never have imagined. The premiere had become the icing on top.

My thoughts were interrupted by a burst of applause as Karen emerged from behind the curtain at the front of the small theatre.

After taking pictures with her family and friends on the red carpet set up onstage, Karen began the night with a short speech.

Tears continually welled up in my eyes as Karen talked about how God had worked through her books. She shared the story of an inmate who dedicated his life to Christ after reading one of her books, then shared her books with other inmates in his prison. Ultimately, God used Karen’s stories about redemption, grace and love to turn around the lives of about 100 of the 400 prisoners.

We spent the next two hours watching a movie that was another testament to that awesome power of God.

The night concluded with a question-and-answer session with Karen and some of the actors and producers from the movie followed by a picture opportunity with Karen and the actors.

As much as I would have loved to spend hours talking with Karen about her life and her stories, the few seconds I was able to say hi, snap a picture and give her a hug were moments I will remember forever.

I have always believed in the power of story; I fell in love with reading at a young age and spent countless hours writing my own stories and plays.

Karen calls her work “life-changing fiction,” and that is truly what it is.

Stories change lives. And when the power of story is combined with the power of the gospel, it can change lives for eternity.

In high school, I decided I wanted to write a novel someday. I always viewed that as a “save for later” dream, though. I figured I would start on it once I was older and had more experience. Above all, I was waiting for God to somehow reveal to me the story or stories I was supposed to write.

Sitting in a restored theatre in Franklin, Tenn., listening to my favorite author share about her work, I received that revelation.

I realized God has already placed so many stories before me; they are found in the people around me and in the “what ifs” I often think about.

I can’t wait anymore.

I may never be the next Karen Kingsbury. I may never even write a book good enough to be published.

But even if God only uses my words and stories to work in one single life, it will be worth it.

Bailey Kaufman attends Tabor College. She can be reached at