By M.J. Van Deventer
Mary Ward Adams never intended to write a book.
The 1958 graduate of Muskogee Central High School was the mother of three sons. Her life was busy — complete — with her family, friends, social activities and church work at Boulevard Christian.
A spiritual experience she had in 1971 planted the seed for her recently published book, “God’s Remarkable Plan for Man — A Tree of Life For Those Who Find It.” The revelations she experienced changed her perspective on Bible concepts she had never considered before.
She was encouraged to study the scriptures in more detail, which is the basis for the book. It was published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, a Bloomington, Ind., firm dedicated to producing spiritual and religious books. WestBow specializes in publishing books by first-time Christian authors, like Adams.
She says man has explored outer space extensively.
“But man’s inner space has been a veiled territory,” she said. “How we came into being, how we are wonderfully made in the image of God — for what purpose and to what end.”
Her concepts of spirituality are explored within the context of 300 scriptures from the King James Version of the Bible.
Adams said the book might never have become a reality had it not been for the involvement of two people who became friends: Jane Stephens, who passed away in 1996 after a battle with cancer, and Wantha Ann Deaton, a Coweta artist who became a part of the creative trio by happenstance.
Adams and Stephens met at a Bible Study Adams was leading in her home. Adams said their friendship was immediate.
“When Jane introduced herself at the first Bible Study, I sensed she was going through a pivotal time in her life,” Adams said. “She wanted someone to listen to her, hear her story and we became instant friends.”
They were prayer partners and wrote poetry together. From 1989 to 1993, they were business associates in a gift shop — Favorite Things — in The Plaza, a South Tulsa upscale shopping complex.
As Adams began compiling her thoughts on her 1971 experience, Stephens complemented her ideas with spiritual poetry. Thirty-eight poems are featured in the book, including two gracing the front and back flaps of the dust jacket. All of the poems were inspired by some aspect of scripture.
Deaton might never have become involved with the project, had Mary not discovered her art at a Tulsa Women’s Show, an event featuring work by women involved in various creative fields — especially art, crafts, interior design. Adams thought Deaton’s floral art would illustrate Stephens’ poetry perfectly.
At that time, Deaton, a ceramic and China painting artist, was adorning custom ceramic sinks with realistic floral designs. Her work was featured at several Designer Show Houses in Tulsa and is included in three interior design books by Charles Faudree, a native of Muskogee whose decorating career focuses on the Country French style.
“I asked Wantha to do the art for the book cover,” Adams said. “I wanted a tree of life that appeared to be on fire, like the burning bush in the Bible that would not be consumed.”
Deaton was taking acrylic art lessons at the time from Jerry Yarnell in his studio near Tulsa. “It’s an oxymoron that a burning bush would not be consumed,” Deaton said. “But this was my class project and Jerry helped me make it work.”
Adams’ first foray into writing a book has been a positive learning experience, she said. Although her book is largely self-edited, because of the personal nature of her scriptural interpretations, she enjoyed being involved in the production processes required to bring any book to fruition.
Although she never planned to write a spiritual book, she has been pleased with the response.
“In 2010, I decided to review what I could recall about the 1971 experience, not realizing it would evolve into a book,” she said.
The book made its debut at a local signing in the home of a friend from her 1958 graduating class and at Lifeway Books in Hot Springs, Ark. Future signings are being planned in Tulsa and Missouri.