The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Published 10:20 am Sunday, April 10, 2022

I’m working on a collection of stories for the ninth book in the Warrior Women series.

It is a labor of love. I know that part of my purpose in life is to gather stories for specific projects from a wide variety of people, combine those stories to create a book and get it in print.

My first published work happened in third grade. Our teacher made us write about our favorite Christmas present. She then sent all of our stories to a local newspaper that sometimes published a children’s page. When my story was in print and I saw my name on paper with my own words, it sparked something in me that has been at work ever since.

As part of my Foxfire teaching philosophy when I was in the classroom, I let the students think of a project they wanted to do each year. One year was quilting, another was developing a traveling science trunk about our forests, and another year the students opted to voice their concerns about Black Mountain. There were also other projects. It was always their choice within certain curriculum guidelines in which genuine and relevant learning would take place. In total, the students chose to do a book publication made up of stories from themselves, their families, neighbors, and friends during eleven academic years.

I can’t think of a more rewarding career for myself than teaching proved to be. Connecting school and community through these projects as well as connecting students to parents, grandparents, and multi generations of stories from within their own people was well worth the effort. Publishing a book is no easy task. I had to learn the process from beginning to end in order to help get our work in print.

After retiring from the classroom, my desire to write my own books and to continue as a story gatherer continued. What I’ve discovered about adults is that they have many stories to tell, but don’t have time or confidence to put them on paper. I’m happy to record the telling of a good story, then transcribe it for them.

After publishing Panther Tales, Volumes 1, 2, and 3, I am willing to do another book on the subject if stories come in. I had started the next book when I had computer trouble and lost my contact information for people and stories that had come forward. Bigfoot and Woolybooger Tales Volume 1 and 2 are probably the last collections I’ll do on that subject. I also worked on a children’s book called Camp Woolybooger with my grandchildren. Mountain Wisdom, Mountain Folk was a collection of all types of things from planting tips, superstitions, weather signs, and home remedies to dream interpretations, along with other folklore gathered from the region.

The Warrior Women series has meant so much to me because I’ve been able to give people the opportunity to share their stories of Christian faith, the intervention of God in their lives during difficult circumstances, and the good that has come out of the bad in their testimonies. I have had many women and a few men to pose in medieval type warrior garb for these books and done photo shoots of them. Some topics have been harder than others, but I really thought The Battle Belongs to the Lord would be a subject that we all could relate to with a personal struggle.

However, the deadline has come and gone, and I don’t have enough stories to finish the project. I put the invitation out and consider every story that’s submitted. For each book, I’ve had people promise a story that didn’t deliver. But I’m convinced that God doesn’t want us to be beggars. So,

He will prompt and inspire the story tellers to submit a story, or the book just won’t happen. I was disappointed and confused about the lack of response for this opportunity which I believed God wanted me to work on.

Finally, it dawned on me, if this is a project to be completed then truly “the battle belongs to the Lord.”

Judith Victoria Hensley is a retired teacher, writer, photographer and columnist for over 25 years for Harlan Enterprise.