Answer This Question With A Question and Doors Will Open

This is a story about me, and it's also about you. 

It's a story about what my heart desires, and it's also about what your heart desires. 

Before I tell it we have to make a deal because I'm going to tell the story in terms of a subject that well, I realize not everyone is as passionate about as I am. So the deal is you have to stick with me and when you get to the end you can replace my desire with what you desire because like I said, even though this is a story about me it's also about Deal.

Here we go.


The guy in the picture wears many hats, one of which is that of an author and he happens to be my favorite author on the planet. I drove from Houston to Oklahoma for an all day event he hosted. The day before the event there was a discussion and book signing opportunity that was open for all to attend, so of course I went! Not long after the photo you see was taken I returned to my hotel, entered an elevator and engaged in small talk with a father and son who I learned were on a trip across the country.

The thing is, this wasn't just any elevator ride. It was THE elevator ride after I just met my favorite author on the entire planet, had a conversation with him and didn't pee my pants in the process. To say I was excited puts it mildly. When my companions on the elevator asked what I was doing in town I told them I made the trip to see an author I followed pretty closely.  The father asked,

"What author?"
"Rob Bell," I replied grinning from ear to ear
"Never heard of him," he said. They wished me well and exited the elevator. 

If you're reading this and, like my buddies on the elevator, you don't know who Rob Bell is either that's OK. Remember our deal're stuck with me for now because of it. No exiting the story allowed at this point. Replace Rob Bell with Beyonce if it helps you stay the course because who doesn't want to meet Beyonce, right?


We have this chalkboard in our kitchen and I write short Bible verses on it. There's no schedule, no rhyme or reason. The verses stay up until I have this sense of it's time to move on to something different. I shared earlier how I've recently found myself at this awkward point in my life and as a result I'm trying to navigate what eventually exiting corporate america and pursuing ministry will look like for me. One of the verses I chose to focus on in hopes of gaining some clarity was Mark 10:51.

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." 

This verse was on our board for weeks. I'd pass it daily and pray that like the blind man I'd come up with an answer.


Here's what I knew for sure as I headed to Oklahoma. I'm supposed to follow my curiosity and learn as much as I can about theology and the historical context of The Bible. There's a catch though. At this point I didn't feel like I was supposed to be learning in a traditional school setting. I've considered seminary or a degree in Biblical studies and I may eventually end up taking that route but for now I feel like I'm supposed to learn from people that are living their lives in a way that deepens my curiosity and are willing to provide tools to assist in my learning journey. 

So there I sat, in this small group of mostly pastors and their wives,  gathered around my favorite author hoping to gain some insight into how he's learned all he's learned. When the opportunity for Q&A came about I listened to questions like,

"What's Oprah really like?" 
"How do I know what my next 'thing' is when it comes to my ministry?"

If this was going to be my only chance to ask Rob a question it had to be a good one. I felt nervous and anxious. I thought about my chalkboard Bible verse - what is it that I wanted? I managed the courage to raise my hand. 

"Yes?" Rob said looking in my direction.
"Thank you for being here and for setting some time aside to answer our questions," I replied.
"You're welcome. Have we met before?" he asked. 
"No," I said. 
"What's your name?" he asked. 
"Tia," I replied.
"Are you from this area?" 
"No, I drove here from Houston," I replied.

At this point I'm freaking out a little because this is on the verge of turning into a conversation and I had a hard enough time deciding on the question I was going to ask. 

"Give this lady all the ice cream she wants!" he announced loudly to the cashier in the back of the small cafe we were sitting in. The crowd laughed and my nervousness subsided a little. He continued, "Ok, what's your question?"
"What books would you recommend to someone that is intrigued by The Bible, convinced that they are supposed to learn more about its context and history and not at a point where they believe school is the route they are supposed to take? What should someone who wants to pour all of the knowledge you have in your head into their own head without seminary do? When you talk about the context, the history, the Hebrew meaning for words...where do I find more of THAT?" (insert BIG EXHALE on my part)
He smiled, "What is it about The Bible that has you so intrigued?"
"Oh man, where to begin? I could talk about this for days," I said. "It all goes back to a decision to read the entire Bible. So many things in my life changed after that," I said having found some confidence hidden in my response. 
"Hang around after the book signing and I'll share some recommendations with you," he replied .

I managed a "thank you," while trying not to spontaneously combust from excitement.  

At the end of the Q&A I got in line with the rest of the group and had some great conversations with people as I anxiously waited to have a book signed and to receive the recommendations for tools that would assist in my thirst for knowledge. 

When it was my turn Rob signed my book and asked if I was attending the event the following day.

"Yes, I'll be there," I said.
"I'd like to put some thought into some book suggestions for you. Find me tomorrow and let's talk then, ok?"
"Ok, great! Thank you!" (insert photo opp and my previously mentioned elevator ride)

Doors Open (Day 2)

Event day rolled around and this time I found myself in a group of about 200 people, some of whom had been at the book signing the day before. We talked before the event started and they offered up their own suggestions of resources I should look into and a couple of ladies even insisted I take a seat next to them in the front row. Woo hoo! 

Rob Bell, How To Be Here Tour

Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa, OK.

I spent most of my time taking notes, paying attention to the types of questions people were asking and looking forward to hearing the book recommendations mentioned the day before.

As the event came to a close there was another opportunity for book signings and photos and I made the decision to let the crowd dwindle down a bit before getting in line myself. It wasn't long before I found myself in front of Rob again.

"Ok, Tia here's what I have for you. I want you to start out by reading these three books and we're going to create a school for you. When you're done reading these three books you're going to email us and then we're going to send you a list of more books and we're going to see where this thing goes. How does that sound?"
"Shut-up!!" I shouted before slightly hyperventilating and bursting into tears.

He laughed and even though my hands were shaking I managed to take down the information. I also realized that shut-up is not synonymous with thank you and so I thanked him. 

I ordered the books before heading home and they are beyond what I was hoping for. I'm learning a lot, questioning more and excited to see what unfolds in the coming months. 

The Final Question

This is a story about me, and it's also about you. 

It's a story about what my heart desires, and it's also about what your heart desires. 

So to you, the reader, what questions must YOU ask in response to this question?

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked....


May your days be filled with compassion, your faith remain strong and may growth be your compass.