Yes, yes…lots of labels: husband, father and now grandfather, orthopaedic surgeon and medical missionary. But my real claim to fame is that I flunked second grade. I couldn’t or wouldn’t read…so every time I can share about my writing it’s a victory! I’m severely dyslexic. I think my parents were just as surprised as I was when my first book, Maya Hope, was published. In fact, I ran into an old friend the other day that knew how I struggled in English, especially spelling, and he said, “You must use spellcheck a LOT.” I just finished my fourth novel, Larimer Streetand working on my fifth, The Gene—isn’t that God’s redemption!
In times of reflection is easy to look back and say, “Wait, now how did I get here.” Like most self-driven people, I had my nose to the grindstone for years as I graduated with honors in Chemistry, went right into medical school in Seattle and off to an orthopaedic surgery residency in Texas. Along the way, I wed my wife, Julie, and we started raising a family with three boys.
We both grew up in Montana and always longed to return, so after finishing five grueling years of residency, that is precisely what we did and opened a practice in our hometown doing mostly sports medicine and trauma.
This is the part of the story I rarely share, but five years into practice I quickly learned that it was managing me and not the other way around. Even though we were making really good money and had just built a beautiful new house, both Julie and I felt there had to be “more.” When a good friend of ours invited us to go on a medical mission trip to Guatemala, we soon found out what that was. We spent a whole week practically in tears as we saw this incredible need for orthopaedic services, both kids and adults that suffered needlessly because of the lack of care.
After a year of soul searching, we decided to go all in and stopped my practice, sold our home and cars, and answered the call to become full-time medical missionaries. We have been fortunate in serving and traveling with some fantastic organizations like Mercy Ships and Hope Force International. We have cared for people in many parts of the world, from Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia. We have been in peaceful villages to scary war-torn countries. We served during two of the most significant and recent natural disasters with the Tsunami of Sri Lanka and the earthquake in Haiti. We even lived on a hospital ship for a time with our boys where they went to school and served right along-side of us.
Like so much of life, it was wonderful, awful, fulfilling, challenging and everything in between. We went from a very comfortable salary to raising our own support and often wondering if we had money to buy the most basic essentials. But we got to know amazing people from all kinds of cultures and meet them in great times of need, often coming away more full of love and gratitude that we could ever give. One of my favorite verses from scripture is, “May the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope.” We got to live and experience that on a daily basis, as often we had no idea where the supplies would come for the next mission (especially when orthopaedics is so reliant on our tools and implants).
When it was time to move off the mission field, my passion turned to writing—gulp! I guess I could have written non-fiction about our adventures and travels, but what I liked to read was mystery, suspense, and action-thrillers. I love stories! So what if I could tell stories, incorporating these real-life adventures into them…that would be something. So that’s what I’ve done. From my visit to North Korea (one of the most challenging and fascinating places I’ve been) in Maya Hope, to being at ground zero of one of the most deadly earthquakes in history and trying to care for people with horrendous injuries without power, water, or lights (The Tree of Life), to the mysterious jungles of Borneo where, orangutans and witch doctors rule (The Rusted Scalpel).
My fourth book, Larimer Streetis totally different and has recently been taken on by a well-known agent. Larimer Streetis a historical fiction based on the life of my great-grandfather who ran the rescue mission in downtown Denver in the early 1900s through WWI and the great flu epidemic. The first three books, in the Dr. Nicklaus Hart Series, are self-published but I’m hoping for a traditional publishing contract for Larimer Street.
I started my publishing adventure with a small, hybrid publisher (You pay me, and I’ll publish your book) which I quickly learned was a huge mistake. I did all the work, and she made all the money. I probably went in this direction because of a lack of confidence in my writing. But as my confidence and my writing improve, I will probably stick to a mixture of self-publishing and hopefully an occasional traditional route. With all the tools for modern day writers, there is absolutely no reason, not to self-publish.
Every writer will tell you that a career in writing is hard. Just keeping your butt in the chair for hours at a time is difficult, but I have chosen this path for two reasons. The first is for the legacy to my children and future generations. I want them to know who I was, but more importantly who this God is that we serve. Second, I love my readers. I get so much wonderful feedback on the stories of hope and redemption.
And I would love to hear from you. There are lots of ways to reach out to me through social media and my website. Here are few…Please contact me!
I am also one of the authors of the collaborative box set
Do No Harm