Anne Robey-Graham

Anne Robey-Graham

Dr. Anne Robey-Graham earned an EdD from Arizona State University and worked in higher education for over 20 years. She also had over 30 years of ministry experience. It was her love of these fields, and the people she worked with, that fueled her passion for writing The Church Sign. Dr. Robey-Graham passed away unexpectedly in December of 2011, leaving behind her husband, five children, and five grandchildren.

The Church Sign

Anne Robey-Graham

Alicia Zimmerman is smart. A researcher for a Canadian university, she has her whole life and career in front of her. But when she … Read More

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Interview

How have your personal experiences affected your writing?

Writing has been a lifelong dream that I let others talk me out of in favor of more “practical” pursuits. However, even though I “came late to this party,” also earning a doctorate and becoming a professor after I turned 50, I am so grateful for second chances. I’ve experienced enough to give me hope for possibilities, and yet I know in my heart that things can go wrong and God can answer prayers with a “no.” He sometimes chooses not to heal or rescue, but he always gives us strength and never leaves us. Blending those seemingly oppositional ideas—God is always good and the future is bright and death always wins—is at the heart of all my writing and my teaching.

How did The Church Sign come about?

I suffered with chronic Lyme disease for 20 years and 3 years of sometimes debilitating treatments before being declared “Lyme-free” in 2011. Every time I have faced a difficult challenge, such as recovering from grief or overcoming chronic illness, I’ve set a goal to accomplish something good during that time. After I was widowed, I went back to school and earned a doctorate and then changed my career at the age of 50+. While I was going through treatments for Lyme, I wrote my first novel, joined a critique group, and pushed myself to use those days spent lying on the couch creating stories and dialogues and plot twists. I often challenge others, but I work to always show them hope. It’s not simply a ponderous push towards duty and obligation; it’s also an exhilarating hike to higher places.

Higher education is a passion of yours, and a major theme in The Church Sign. As a professor, what do you enjoy most?

I enjoy interacting with students—which, of course, is a significant part of my day job but is also an energy-boosting “hobby.”

One of the ways I help is when [students] describe feeling like they’re standing in front of a brick wall and are stuck. I can see doors and openings in the wall they, for some reason, cannot see. So I like to fling open those doors and show them what could be there once they move past that wall. It’s their choice to step through or not, but it’s so rewarding when they begin to see the doors, too. For some, the door is education, finishing a degree, learning something new. For others, the door is changing the negative messages they have heard all their lives and realizing that they can learn anything they need to in order to change their lives. For others, the door is confidence, reminding them of all they have accomplished and how they have the resources to continue. For others, the door is simply knowing that they’re not alone.

What is your experience in the church?

I spent 30 years as a pastor’s wife (28 years before my late husband died and 2 years with my new husband before he retired from his church in Canada). I grew up in a small-town parsonage next door to the church where everyone knew us and the expectations were high for the way we should behave. I know the church and I love the church. The dear people who pray and care for each other, the squabbles over petty issues like what not to wear or who scratched the organ, the drawing-a-line-in-the-sand over worship wars, the potluck suppers and great fellowship—and most of all, the place where quiet and peace usher us into the presence of God to remind us about what’s really important.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, I’d like them to see God’s goodness in everyone, not just in certain leaders.

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