Saturday, July 19, 2008

Finding the Time

Think of something that you want to accomplish. Perhaps you are one of the many who has said “I want to (write a book, try out for a play, join the dance team, or fill in the dream),” only to lament in the same breath, “but I don’t have time.” A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to interview an amazing man. Maybe Richard Couser’s story will give you a much-needed kick start. He managed to find the time to accomplish a huge goal while working full time as an attorney and partner in a law firm. Richard is in his 60’s, has a family, and like most of us, is dealing with some major life stuff. Still he did it! Let him inspire you today.

For his first book with WinePress Publishing this Concord, New Hampshire resident chose a topic not often tackled in fiction—the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.

“I didn’t want to write another commentary on Deuteronomy. I figured there are enough of those.” He should know—Richard has over 70 books on Deuteronomy in his library. Instead, understanding that people respond to story in a unique way, he chose to weave it into the lives of two true-to-life characters.

The Deuteronomy Project: A Journey into the Mind of God centers on the mentoring relationship between Chris, a young lawyer seeking a deeper understanding of his Christian faith, and Hal, a retired pastor. The two men read through Deuteronomy and in the process take a journey that allows Chris and others to see how this ancient book applies to their contemporary lives. When asked if he patterned the characters after real people, Richard admits, “I’m Chris.” Hal, he says, is based on many pastors and mentors he has known throughout his life. And his life is as interesting as a book. He is certainly no stranger to the discipline and perseverance that it takes to write.

Raised in Lebanon, New Hampshire by working class parents, Richard earned a work study scholarship to the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy. “My main job was doing dishes. That’s how I covered my tuition.” He recalls the challenge of living and going to school with teens from more privileged backgrounds. He had to work and earn his way through while they didn’t. But he did get involved and make friends, his closest friendship being with a Porto Rican student, also attending Exeter on work study. “Of course I went to Exeter in the late fifties, early sixties so things were pretty different,” he says. “Now the school is much more balanced when it comes to race and social status.”

In the end Richard’s hard work paid off when he got another scholarship, this time to Yale University. His studies at Yale prompted him to choose law and accept another incredible opportunity—Stanford Law School. “I chose law late in the game. When it came time to graduate and decide what to do next I saw that my interests pointed to a career as a lawyer. I had many offers but chose Stanford for the chance to go to California.” It was there that he reconnected with an old friend from New Hampshire. Linda had moved to San Francisco about the same time that Richard started law school. Linda quickly became the love of his life and was instrumental in Richard going from “I’m go to church so that makes me a Christian” to being a true believer and follower of Christ. They married in 1966 and now have 2 children and seven grandchildren, including a son who followed Dad’s footsteps to Phillips Exeter and Yale.

In addition to over 30 years as law firm partner Richard is an active member of Christian Legal Society, a group for Christian lawyers. He is also involved in his church and in his community. So when did he ever find time to craft a 500+ page book?

“The bulk of the writing happened during a 4-month sabbatical that the firm offers. I never would have finished without that.” Even with the sabbatical he had to discipline himself to finish, rewrite, and work the story into something that people would want to read. In the end it took nearly ten years, but he did it.

He is thrilled to see the response to The Deuteronomy Project. It has been read by his fellow lawyers, as well as non-lawyers, men and women. “People like the characters and find the subject matter interesting.” Some read it because they gravitate toward character-driven books that make them think. Others are simply interested in Deuteronomy. As Chris discovers in the story, readers see that this often underappreciated Old Testament book is still important to the contemporary Christian—that it is the basis for how God wants us to live. “It’s one of the most quoted Old Testament books.” Richard points out. “Jesus and Paul both refer to it often in their teaching.”

During the week of July 13-18 Richard had a chance sign and promote The Deuteronomy Project at the International Retail Show in Orlando, Florida. He looks forward to seeing what God will do with the results of his ten years of making the time to write.

And I look forward to hearing what this story drives you to find the time for in the near future. Oh, and if you’re a book lover like I am, check out Richard’s book. It’s a great story. Spead the word!

1 comment:

Rachelle said...

Thank you so much for this post! I realized that the goals I want to accomplish I'm not really working very hard at, and if I can't be faithful with little how dare I think I'll be faithful with much just because it's more? You and Mr. Couser definately inspired me and I am now actively working to spend a little time each day disciplining myself. I find such encouragement on this blog. It is one of my favorites. Thanks, everyone!