On this episode, Reflections on Caregiving, Faith, and A Legacy of Love, join host Doris Swift as she welcomes author Ann Coker to the show. Ann shares her journey of compiling her husband Bill’s sermons into book form.
Despite facing challenges, including Bill’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and the couple’s move to Indianapolis for caregiving support, Ann’s passion for seeing Bill’s message in print has driven her forward. She encourages listeners to document their own treasures and experiences, as it can lead to something special.
Doris and Ann also discuss the importance of staying true to one’s calling, even in challenging seasons, and the multiple facets that a calling can have, such as being a caregiver and a writer. They express gratitude for the opportunity to partner with God despite imperfections and reflect on the blessings and support they receive from loved ones.
Throughout the episode, they touch on various projects, including Ann’s unpublished companion book for ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ and Bill’s podcast, ‘Words of Endearment with Bill Coker.’ They also delve into the significance of written words as a way to preserve and pass down legacies, highlighting the importance of reading someone’s writings to truly understand their heart.
As the episode comes to a close, Doris expresses excitement about having Ann on the show and the ongoing projects they are both involved in. They affirm that age should not hinder someone from pursuing their calling and share their plans to publish more of Bill’s works, including a podcast series. Doris concludes the episode by extending blessings to Ann and expressing gratitude for her ongoing ministry work. Listeners can find links to Ann’s information in the show notes and can look forward to future episodes of Fierce Calling, where meaningful conversations and connections among believers are valued and celebrated.”
Grab Ann’s Freebies Mentioned in Reflections on Caregiving, Faith, and A Legacy of Love:
Podcast: Words of Endearment with Bill Coker
More About Ann and How You Can Connect with Her!
Ann L. Coker graduated from college 20 years after completing high school. After working as managing editor of Good News magazine, she started writing for devotional publications, periodicals, and her active blog abcoker.blog. She has served the pro-life cause in several agencies. Ann is married to her favorite preacher, Bill. She has prepared Bill’s sermons on the Ten Commandments for his first book, Words of Endearment, published in 2020. Three more books have been published. Ann has written a companion book (unpublished) for John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Ann finds her greatest joy in seeing her husband’s messages in print to glorify God. She is his caregiver because he has Alzheimer’s disease. With an able tech team, Bill now has a podcast: Words of Endearment with Bill Coker.
Transcript from Reflections on Caregiving, Faith, and A Legacy of Love
Today I am excited to welcome my writing friend, Ann L. Coker. We are in a group together called Book Camp, and we have been able to connect, and I’m so glad to have her on. It’s going to be a really great episode. And some really fun facts about Ann, she graduated from college 20 years after graduating from high school, which is very encouraging. And she also worked as managing editor of Good News magazine. And then, she started writing for devotional publications and periodicals, and she also blogs. She has served in the pro-life arena for that cause for several different agencies. She’s married to her favorite preacher, Bill, which I love that. And she’s prepared Bill’s sermons on the Ten Commandments for his first book, Words of Endearment, and three more books have followed since. She also wrote a companion book for John Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress, which is yet to be published. And she finds great joy in seeing her husband’s messages in print to glorify God. And she’s also her husband, Bill’s Caregiver because he does have Alzheimer’s disease. And so we’ll talk a little bit about that as well. And he does have a podcast, though. They have a lot of great people on their tech team. And Bill has a podcast called Words of Endearment with Bill Coker. Welcome to the show, Ann. It’s so great to have you on.
Ann Coker [00:03:58]:
It’s good to be here, Doris. I appreciate your invitation.
Oh, yes. I am excited to talk about all these things. You have a lot of interesting things that you have done and continue to do. And I always ask my guests where they’re taking action, where their passion, compassion, and conviction intersect. So if you could share a little about your story and however the Lord leads, and how you are taking action in those areas that intersect, we’d love to hear about it.
Ann Coker [00:04:29]:
Ann, okay, here we go. As to passion, I call it my dream job. And it began when Bill was pastoring a church, a community church in Terrahote, Indiana. And I, along with people who listened to him, would ask him to write a book. And his answer was always the same there are enough books out there. So that settled it for him, but not for me. So my passion to see Bill in print became a possibility, as you stated, in an unusual way when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017. That facilitated two important factors in our lives. We moved from our home in Terrahood, Indiana, and bought a home in Indianapolis with our daughter and her husband. And being both our daughter and a nurse, becky could provide valuable help with caregiving. She also provides our meals in the evening, so that freed up my time. The main factor is that while Bill would not write a book, I could compile his messages and get them published without his permission. In fact, one funny little thing is when the books come in a box, he lifts up the book and he looks at his name on it and he says, how did that happen? And I said, well, I did it behind your back. Which means in our office, in our study, our computers are on opposite sides of the room. So we’re actually working back to back. I’m dealing with the book while he’s playing solitaire on his computer. That is so cute. So I did it behind his back. Compassion intersects with conviction. When caregiving and publishing became our purpose for each day’s schedule, I’m learning to connect with agents and editors and publishers. My earlier training in editing prepared me for the process of compiling Bill’s manuscripts. While Bill was a professor at a Christian college in Kentucky, I held the position of managing editor at Good News magazine, as you said, and I also took online courses and attended writers conferences. We kept cassette tapes of Bill sermons from those 19 years. You can imagine how many that is. And it was while he was preaching at World Gospel Church in Terrahode, Indiana. And then he also filled notebooks with his sermon outlines, and we have all of those, too, that provided fuel for the possibility of getting books printed. I began to compile messages, get transcripts, started with a blog friend. And we involved our grandson in converting the tapes into digital format. So Bill has now four published books.
Wow. That is such a treasure that you have all of those things that could be now used again for the glory of God to reach even more people. Because I know that throughout Bill’s life and when he would teach and preach, he was sharing the gospel, and so many were learning so many things and coming to the Lord and all of that, and now a new opportunity. But it’s so fun how you were when those boxes of books come in and what you have to say to Bill, but it’s just adorable. But I love this one. I picked up some of the books already, and so I need to read through these. And I found the quote in the very beginning of one of the books that we’ll talk about, too. It’s called Let the Church Be the Church. And I really love the COVID It’s the cross. And the cross is all different people, and then they’re kind of scattered around the cross and kind of like going out. And so I love this one quote that says, “Dr. Coker issues a clarion call for the church to reclaim its God-ordained mission. He begins by identifying the problem of our times, stating, I’m frustrated not because a sinful world is out there, but because a weak church is not responding to the challenge of our age that is profound and powerful. And how did you grab that quote? Was that from a sermon that he did or how did that come out?
Ann Coker [00:10:14]:
It would been from a sermon. Yeah. The messages in that book, as also with the two other books, came from his sermons at World Gospel Church. He emphasized that the greatest miracle is the church. He said it would be nothing for God to have a virgin born child. It would be nothing for God to have a resurrection, but the church involves people, and so you have the church lasting for these many years. And so that, he says, is the greatest miracle.
Wow, I’ve never really heard that presented in that way before. You probably get that response a lot, don’t you? I imagine you do, because yeah, it’s true. And how precious that we are brought into the Trinity, we’re brought into that altogether to partner with God. We imperfect people. That is definitely a miracle. I love this so much. And you were talking earlier about how with the situation that you have with Bill’s House and everything, and praise the Lord, that you’re able to be there with your daughter and son in law and your daughter being a nurse, and I know what a blessing that is. Our daughter is a nurse as well, and she’s just been such a blessing with health issues that we’ve run across with now facing with my parents and all of that. So how do you plan that as far as the caregiving and your day? Are you all home together during the day?
Ann Coker [00:12:17]:
We’re in the same house, and we have what I call the east wing apartment, which is the front part of the house, living room, office, bath, bedroom, closets. And so my care, through Bill is with Bill is basically morning tonight through the night. But Becky’s help is mainly when I talk over things that have happened. Like the other day, he fell in the closet, in the clothes closet where he gets dressed. He got up by himself. But I talked over that with our daughter. She wanted to know if did he hurt his knees? And I said, well, he said he was okay because he doesn’t know how he fell or what happened before he fell. He doesn’t remember that part of it. So they’re funny issues that we talk about. We have this expression, new every day, because you can’t judge tomorrow by what happened today. Things change with every day, every hour. So the caregiving right now is mainly with me, although Becky interacts with all right, if you’re not going to use soap to wash the dishes, then you don’t get to wash the dishes. So things like that with him.
Yeah, well, I think that what you just said is going to be something that a lot of our listeners can relate to. They may be also a caregiver for a spouse or a parent. And so I think it was really encouraging how you brought out that just kind of take each day with that day like, this is the day the Lord has made rejoice and be glad in it, and then the next day do that again. But you’re writing it’s so special, how God had equipped you all those years as an editor and all of those things so that eventually you would be putting these books together with these words that are going to just be evergreen for people to read. And what a legacy for your family, too. Isn’t that a precious thing? Right? Tell us a little bit about your family.
Ann Coker [00:14:59]:
We have four grown children. They have families of their own. We have ten grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. There’s only one grandson and his wife that live here in Indianapolis. In that 13 great grandchildren. There’s a set of triplets that are in Nashville, Tennessee, two boys and a girl. They’re nine years old now, I think. So we don’t have the family close by, so I communicate with them with cards, email, so thankful for the Internet and Facebook and such. So that’s our family.
Yes, and it’s so encouraging, too. As I said in the intro when I was mentioning about how you went back to school, college after graduated, what, 20 years, right? What prompted that for you to go back to school?
Ann Coker [00:16:07]:
Bill was a professor at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, and I got married right out of high school, and he had finished college, so I had a scholarship to Birmingham Southern in Alabama, but I got married instead. Early on in being a professor, one of the board members said that he would fund my first year at college. So I thought, now’s the time. We had four kids at home and I got their permission because I knew things would change in the house with my taking classes. But they were all for it, and we went ahead with it. It took me six years. And I understand you went to college later.
I was a banker for almost 30 years, so I did my business credits part while I was in banking. And then when I left, there were several years span between that and I went back to school at 55. And I think it’s important for us to share that because there’s someone out there right now that is feeling God telling them that he wants them to do something that they may be thinking, well, I’m too old for that now. But that is not true, right, Ann? I mean, look at all the things that he allows in different seasons in our lives, and we never know what he’s going to call us to do. So now that you are continuing to write, what is on your heart that you’re working on right now?
Ann Coker [00:17:52]:
Well, I’ve got my hand in several things I want to finish, want to find a publisher for the Pilgrim Book. I want to back up that you’re right about some not wanting to go ahead with a calling or a nudge from the Lord because they’re too old. Well, at 84, I have found this to be a real pleasure and a calling to get these books in print. So while I’m writing my own, I still want to publish more of Bill’s works. You mentioned a podcast. He’s now in a series of Ezra and Nehemiah on the podcast, and I’d like to see that in a book because it’s eleven messages on those two books. And also he held a retreat for missionaries on the topic of holiness. And I’ve been working on those manuscripts. They’ve already been transcripted from the recording, so I’m working on those, compiling that. That’s basically on my horizon. Although I’m writing a memoir about our current situation with Bill’s dementia, but the emphasis is more on myself, what I’m learning about myself, about my fears, frustration and faith during this time. What are those triggers that cause me to fear, that caused me to get angry? Even the tone of my voice, bill sloughs it off as, oh, that’s all right, but it doesn’t help me to have a tone of voice that’s condescending. So I’m learning about myself even though the Holy Spirit resides in me. I’m not always following that leading.
Yeah, we can relate to that for sure. And that’s going to be so invaluable for people to read and be encouraged by it. Because it is important to share not only all of the wonderful things in our life, but also the struggles. So we can show how the Lord brings us through and how we have to wrestle with some things and how we have to examine ourselves and see what the Lord can change and things that we choose. I think that’s going to be an amazing resource. And all of these different books, what a great resource for churches and groups and just individuals reading them as well. But it’s just wonderful resources for the church going forward. So how did you and Bill meet?
Ann Coker [00:21:22]:
He was the choir director for the junior church when we lived in New Orleans. And he was well, I knew him when he was in high school and then his early years of college. Then my family moved back to Mobile, which was our home, and my dad’s business moved him back. So then a little while later we started writing. I was taking Latin at the time in high school. I know nothing about it now, but I knew Bill did. So I would write him to ask about things I was learning. And then he came for my high school graduation. And that started the romance at that point.
Very sweet. Very sweet. Did you always feel a pull toward writing?
Ann Coker [00:22:31]:
I kept a journal. I never tried to call it a diary because it was not day by day, but whenever I’d want to write. But the writing probably started while I was in college and not just with assignments, but doing things on my own.
Well, I think there’s so many things that we’ve talked about today that really will encourage someone listening today and also inspire them to walk forward and knowing that even in challenging seasons, we can simultaneously walk in our calling. And it may be a calling that has it’s like multifaceted. So right now you’re a caregiver for your husband and you’re also a writer, and it all kind of connects. And I think too, if there’s someone out there who has access to treasures that similar to yours, if there are some things that they can dig out that they can put down on paper recordings or different journals or things like that, it can really create something special. When the Lord puts it all together, he kind of puts the flow together. So now the first book, was that a challenge to write? When you first started that one, which one was that?
Ann Coker [00:24:00]:
It was one on the Ten Commandments. Words of endearment. And Bill saw that as a revelation of God’s love. So he didn’t call them the Commandments, he called them the words, God’s words. And that’s how it ended up, words of Endearment. And that was his title for that series. That was when I found out about a publisher that is Sermon to Book. It’s a hybrid publisher. And I told them that the messages, the chapters were on cassette tapes. Well, you’d think I was in the Dark ages. So they wanted it digital format. And that’s when our grandson was working at a mission agency, and they had the equipment to convert the cassette tapes into digital format. And then Sermon to Book compiled it. They wrote the discussion questions after each chapter, after each sermon. And that was eleven sermons starting with the decalogue sermon and then the Ten Commandments. And then I added one. I don’t have the book in front of me. I do the last chapter.
Rightly. Handling the word of truth.
Ann Coker [00:25:37]:
Yes. And so I added that one. It was not a part of that particular series. It took others to get it going. And it was a hands-on thing for me because I had to edit the transcripts when Bill and I were watching television, and he’d see me with a paper in front of me, and I was making marks on it. He asked me what I was doing, and I said, well, this is your sermon. And he said, well, what are you doing to it? Well, I chose not to use the word edit. I said, Well, I’m just moving your spoken voice into the reading voice. So that satisfied him. Nice that I wasn’t messing up his sermon.
Yeah, I think those were divinely chosen words, for sure, for Bill. And so, yeah, this is awesome. I love how the book has so many places where you can write notes and your own thoughts and whatever you kind of gather from that. And it also is an encouragement because pastors out there, their sermons are being recorded, especially since COVID those are being live streamed and recorded. And many of them have not maybe thought about comprising a book, like actually having their sermons in a book. And I think that this could really help maybe start turning a lot of different wheels and maybe their spouse isn’t a writer or an author, but there are so many people out there that do ghost writing and would love the opportunity to help someone write the book. So that’s encouraging.
Ann Coker [00:27:24]:
Even as you were talking about leaving a legacy. Sometimes writing a memoir may be only published for the few, the family, the extended family. It doesn’t have to get on the great seller’s list, but it can be a legacy for your family.
Yeah. And we think we’ll remember things or we’ll remember to tell our kids things or our grandkids, and we forget stuff and sometimes we’re reminded, of course, the Lord reminds us of different things for us to share. But like you said, it’s really precious to have that legacy of the written word. I mean, when we look at it, that’s what God did for us. We have the written word, his word written for us so that we could read and learn and grow in that it’s a living word. So that is a special treasure for us. Yeah. So I really wish that people in my family would have done something like that because I would have loved to know more about my ancestors, my great great grandma and all of those things. And we’ve heard stories and all, but I think writing them down is really important. And I think that’s why people are so fascinated by genealogy and those kind of things. And you can learn about people, but you don’t really know their heart unless you read something they’ve written. Which is also why it’s so sweet when you get maybe a grandparents Bible or someone’s Bible, because you can see all their notes in the margins and all. Have you grabbed anything from Bill’s Bibles, too, that he’s written in the notes in the margins?
Ann Coker [00:29:17]:
Yeah, and I have my mother’s Bible with that and she will put a note and a date about something that she heard in a sermon. And yes, I have bill’s Bibles, I should say. And he would use colors to underline or shade in various aspects, like blue for the Holy Spirit, yellow for heaven. He had a code that he was using in his Bible.
Wow. And we think that that happened, like, recently, where people started doing the Bible kind of journaling thing and all of that with the color codes and the different fancy pens and all. Bill actually started that. That’s very interesting.
Ann Coker [00:30:11]:
He had a set of colored pencils that he would use.
Great. Wow. I love that. And must be so cool to be able to look through where he’s marked and all of that. And it makes it easy too for you to find stuff as well because you know what color you’re looking for. So that’s really great. And I would love Ann too because this has been so amazing and just encouraging and wonderful to talk with you today and all the things that you’re still going strong like you have so much still left that God is pulling you through to do and just giving you these precious assignments to do this. So tell us how the listener can connect with you and some of the resources, the freebies the resources that you want to offer to them so they can check that out.
Ann Coker [00:31:04]:
Probably the quickest and easiest is just using my email address to contact me and let me know if you’re interested in the books. I have some of the books here at the house, and of course, Amazon also has all four books. So my email address is al two poker email@example.com. So that is the number two, al Two, Coker@gmail.com. And then I’m on Facebook as Anncoker, and my blog, which is A-B-C-O-K-E-R blog. I have a few links that will take you to three of the books and a podcast. And if you send your email address to me, then I will let you know when their books or episodes for the podcast are coming up. The podcast [episodes] are downloaded on Wednesdays. It’s been a little over a year. The first one was the first Wednesday in April of last year. So we just a little while ago celebrated our first year.
Wow, congratulations. Happy birthday.
Ann Coker [00:32:30]:
You’ve been on longer. How long have you been on?
I started back in November of 2019, and it was right before the whole world shut down. It was like we had no idea that was coming, and I just felt the call to do it. It really began as a book proposal, and it became a podcast. So I really think God had a lot of ideas about it that I had no idea about. He’s like, “That’s. Okay, I’ll help you.” So it’s been fun. It’s so fun, and I get to talk to lovely friends like you, which it’s fine to email and it’s fine to be in groups on Facebook and stuff, but it’s really precious to meet people in person first of all, which hopefully we’ll get to do that sometime. But at least to have these conversations, it really means a lot. And connection is so important because we are the church, and it is important to as sisters in Christ and brothers in Christ as well to connect and support and encourage and lift each other up like it tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. We want to do that for sure. And I’ll put all the links in the show notes so the listener can find you. Thank you so much, Ann. This has been so amazing and sweet, and I would love to have you on again sometime because you’ve got lots going on, right? Okay, friend. Well, thank you so much again for being on the show, and God bless you and Bill and all the ministry work that you are still doing, and we will talk soon.
Ann Coker [00:34:11]:
Thank you, Doris.
00:04:29 Passion leads to publishing books behind husband’s back (literally, listen to this sweet story).
00:08:32 Treasure of books used to share the Gospel.
00:17:52 84-year-old author desires to finish projects, publish books, and learn about herself amidst her husband’s dementia.
00:22:54 Find purpose in challenging seasons; embrace calling.
00:24:00 Sermon to Book converts cassette tapes to digital format for publishing.
00:27:50 Importance of the written word for remembering ancestors.
00:32:33 Book turned podcast, unexpected journey, connecting believers.
Quotes from the Show:
The Power of Love: “Compassion intersects with conviction. When caregiving and publishing became our purpose for each day’s schedule.”— Ann Coker 00:04:2900:08:32
The Greatest Miracle of the Church: “It would be nothing for God to have a virgin born child. It would be nothing for God to have a resurrection, but the church involves people, and so you have the church lasting for these many years. And so that, he says, is the greatest miracle.”— Ann Coker 00:10:1400:11:08
Caregiving Challenges: “We have this expression, new every day, because you can’t judge tomorrow by what happened today.”— Ann Coker 00:12:1700:14:04
Going Back to College: “Early on in being a professor, one of the board members said that he would fund my first year at college. So I thought, now’s the time.”— Ann Coker 00:16:0700:17:03
Publishing and Personal Growth: “Well, at 84, I have found this to be a real pleasure and a calling to get these books in print.”— Ann Coker 00:17:5200:20:23
Long-Distance Love: “And then he came for my high school graduation. And that started the romance at that point.”— Ann Coker 00:21:2200:22:23
The Art of Editing: “Well, I’m just moving your spoken voice into the reading voice.”— Ann Coker 00:25:3700:26:25
“Contact me via email or find me on Facebook and my blog for updates on my books and podcast episodes”: “Getting in touch for book and podcast updates is quick and easy through my email, Facebook, and blog.”— Ann Coker 00:31:0400:32:27
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