We sat down with #1 NYT bestseller Karen Kingsbury to discuss her exclusive Bondfire release, I Can Only Imagine. In this short piece, Karen discusses her touching relationship with her late brother Dave, and his chronic struggles with addiction and journey toward redemption.
Bondfire: What lasting impression did your brother Dave leave you and your family?
Karen: Dave will always stand in our hearts and memories as a testimony to God’s faithfulness. Dave was a nice guy who wanted a good life. He wanted a steady job and a loving wife and precious children. While his own choices stopped him from reaching those earthly dreams, God gave him something far more beautiful – eternal life. Dave is proof that it is never too late to find faith, to seek the Savior, and to change the direction of a life. In his final six weeks, Dave was the happiest person any of us knew – and his joy wasn’t because of realized dreams. It was because he’d found a relationship with his Creator. When I heard news of his death, I was at a book-signing. A hundred people were waiting in line when my husband Donald seemed to suddenly show up out of nowhere, a strangely urgent and sad look on his face.
“Is everything okay?” I gave him a quick glance, concerned about the reader next in line.
“No.” He shook his head, tears in his eyes. “Karen, your brother died. He’s gone.”
The surreal feeling of that moment is one most people are familiar with. I walked with Donald to the back of the store and I called my parents. After a few minutes, I returned to the book-signing. The people in that store understood by then what had happened, and they formed a circle around me, praying for me and my family. The next reader in line said, “I’m sorry your brother never had any children. My grandson died last week at age 5 months. Maybe tonight Dave is holding him in heaven.” That image gives me hope – that Dave’s dreams of real life were not only met here on earth through salvation in Christ, but in heaven as well.
Bondfire: What inspired you to release your first short work?
Karen: I love writing Life-Changing Fiction™ – it is my calling, and what I pray God allows me to do until I draw my final breath. But I have other stories to tell, stories that are not fiction. Stories from my own life. I love what Bondfire Books is doing by giving me an avenue to tell those stories. I believe this story, the story of my brother Dave and his impact on our lives, is the first of many short stories I am privileged to tell through this vehicle. My reader friends will have another glimpse of my heart through these short pieces.
Bondfire: What are you up these days aside from writing best-selling novels?
Karen: Our family moved to Nashville, TN, last summer, and we are loving it. We love the emphasis on faith, the wonderful people, and the beauty of the area. We even love the crazy weather. This June, our oldest and only daughter Kelsey will marry Kyle Kupecky, a Christian artist, and the young man we’ve been praying for since Kelsey was born. The two of them are very special. They are working for my ministry while pursuing their passions of acting and singing for Jesus. Tyler is about to enter his second year of college, and he is moving to Nashville where he will finish up at Lipscomb University, a small Christian college. Sean, Josh, EJ, and Austin are at a wonderful Christian school here in town, where they are already acclimated with great friends and success in the classroom and sports fields. Donald has recently been hired to teach Spanish there, so life is full and God’s faithfulness and fingerprints are everywhere. We are soaking in these final days of child-raising, holding onto every moment and learning from the lessons God has placed along the journey.