Saturday

Résumé

Career Capsule
Working in media and marketing since 1988 with an emphasis on writing for audio, print, and internet. Strong reputation as creative, innovative, and strategic. National radio spokesperson. Team leader, guerrilla marketing champion, accomplished presenter, and veteran meeting facilitator. Author or co-author of seven resources including the amazon.com top-25 bestseller, Simply Romantic® Nights. Synthesizes text, images, audio, and video for creative product packaging.

Published Works
Simply Romantic® Nights (FamilyLife)

  • twenty-four date night adventures for married couples packaged with first-rate teaching on why God created romance and sex in the first place.
  • reached number 23 on the overall bestseller list on Amazon, February 14, 2003

Passport to Purity (FamilyLife)

  • Everything you need to plan and host a one-on-one weekend getaway for your son or daughter to talk about the birds and bees... and so much more.
  • more than 110,000 copies sold

Jonah: A Very Veggie Family Adventure (Zondervan)

  • A get-off-the-couch, laugh-out-loud family devotional based on the book of Jonah and video content from the movie.
  • one of the products published to promote the first Veggie Tales movie

Wizards, Hobbits, and Harry Potter (FamilyLife)

  • A parent’s guide to three popular fantasy literature series with book summaries, biographies of the authors, and biblical teaching on the supernatural.

50 Nights of Family Fun (FamilyLife)

  • Fifty quick, easy, and cheap activities to help families turn off the TV and turn up the fun.

Skim samples at bit.ly/wmw2016portfolio


Professional Experience
Owner, Lionsheart Creative
Franklin, Tennessee
2007 - present

Work with a variety of clients including:

S&E Productions
  • Three Years as Senior Writer for THE DRIVER Audio Magazine
  • 25 to 30 minutes of education and entertainment content each month written “for the ear”.
Icon Shears
  • Educational Director
  • Presented session on metals, construction, and proper use of cosmetology shears to over 300 classes in 39 states.
Tin Man Ministries
  • Video production
  • Copywriter for website
5by5: A Change Agency
Many projects including:
  • Nashville Rescue Mission
    • Series of 30-second radio commercials for branding and fundraising
  • Nashville Public Library Foundation
    • Series of “Giving Tuesday” 2015 fundraising emails to existing and new donors.
  • Push The Rock
    • Website copy for complete re-design of site for Pennsylvania-based sports ministry. (Live 6/2016)
WindowWear
  • Copywriter for website (copy available on existing site; new design going live 6/2016)
Doulos Financial Consultants
  • Copywriter for website (new website launches 5/2016)
Samson Society
  • Podcast Executive Producer
  • Survey creation and evaluation
Brentwood Baptist Church

  • Interim director of Marketplace, a multi-sensory experience for elementary students.
  • Wrote and directed weekly dramas
  • Produced weekly 4:00 videos
  • Created activities for students and adults


Birdsong Creative
writer for multiple projects including:

  • an internet company
  • a book publisher
  • a building contractor
  • an entertainment company

Propeller
writer for multiple projects including:

Bible Study Discussion Guide Writer
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and Walden Media
Work with marketing and release teams to create family discussion guides for certain titles. (Click here to view/download)
  1. Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (Walden)
  2. Nim’s Island (Fox)
  3. Space Chimps (Fox)
  4. Horton Hears a Who (Fox)
  5. Love’s Unfolding Dream (Fox)
  6. Young at Heart (Fox) 
  7. Strawberry Shortcake: Rockaberry Roll (Fox)
  8. Ace of Hearts (Fox)
  9. Garfield’s Funfest (Fox)
  10. Elephant Tales (Fox)
  11. Her Best Move (Fox)
  12. Moondance Alexander (Fox)
  13. Tugger (Anchor Bay)
  14. Dog Days of Summer (Anchor Bay)
  15. Pahappahooey Island (Anchor Bay)
  16. City of Ember (Fox)
  17. Angel Wars (Fox)

Creative Director, GSF Media
Smyrna, Tennessee

2009 -2012
  • Developed and implemented strategic marketing plans for implementation through radio
  • Directed and managed a team of freelance sound designers
  • National radio spokesperson for World Vision (16,000 sponsored children in three years; Equivalent of $6.7-million per year)
  • Relationships with leading radio networks and stations
  • Wrote, directed, and produced short- and long-form audio programming (media buys for programming in excess of $1-million annually)
  • Work with clients such as World Vision, Women of Faith, and Turning Point.

Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Nashville, Tennessee

2004 - 2007

Senior Acquisitions Editor Biblical Reference
Nelson Bible Group
12/2005 - 3/2007
  • Strategic annual publishing plan for $10-million business unit
  • Deal memos, contract negotiations, sales forecasts, expense budgets, marketing budgets
  • Worked with marketing department to create and implement marketing plans
  • Spokesperson for Smart Guide to the Bible Series; more than 25 radio interviews
  • Content development
  • Recruited, hired, supervised, and paid editors, graphic designers, typesetters, and other workers
  • Followed publishing process
  • Presented the Bible in a creative and approachable way for deeper learning
  • Worked daily with several software packages and technological solutions for print
  • Worked daily with database applications
Regional Manager, Eastern U.S.
Nelson Ministry Services
3/2004 - 12/2005
  • Created strategic plan for account list
  • Worked closely with accounts payable
  • Built strong relationships with ministries and Christian businesses in territory
  • Exceeded my sales goal for fiscal year 2005, $1.8-million
  • Exceeded my sales goal for fiscal year 2006 in 9 months, $2.1-million
  • Served ministries, non-profit organizations, colleges, and churches along the Eastern seaboard through strategic planning, donor development, author relations, and custom publishing

FamilyLife
Little Rock, Arkansas
1992 - 2004


Manager, Resource CreationFamilyLife Publishing2001 - 2004
  • Created and supervised a publishing plan
  • Created and supervised a marketing plan for each major release
  • Member of ministry’s Strategic Marketing Team
  • Wrote and implemented marketing plans for Turn off the TV campaign, Simply Romantic Nights, and other products
  • Spokesperson for Resurrection Eggs (radio, TV, print), Simply Romantic Nights (radio and TV), Fifty Nights of Family Fun (radio), Passport to Purity (radio and print), and other resources
  • Content development
  • Led a team through the creative, editorial, marketing, and design processes for many new product ideas
  • Helped develop the publishing process
  • Built and maintained relationships with vendors, authors, radio guests, and ministry leaders
  • Extensive experience with technological solutions for print, interactive media, audio, and video
  • Worked daily with several databases
  • Commentator on “FamilyLife This Week

Manager, Resource Marketing
1998 - 2004
  • Built relationships with ministries and publishing companies
  • Built relationships with authors and broadcast guests
  • Helped craft marketing plans

Producer/Engineer
FamilyLife Today
1992 - 1998
  • Directed more than 600 recording sessions
  • Cast production vision for more than 1500 editions of the NRB-award winning broadcast
  • Produced audio marketing collaterals for ministry
  • Helped develop the radio production and fulfillment process
  • Served as writer/producer for several audio drama vignettes
  • Part of the event planning team for the Congress on the Urban Family (1995)
Focus on the Family
Colorado Springs, Colorado
1991 - 1992
  • Broadcast Editor, "Focus on the Family" Daily Program
  • Edited and post-produced eight editions of the daily program each month
  • Wrote and produced PSAs
WMSL, 88.9 FM
Athens, Georgia1990 - 1991
  • Morning Drive Announcer/Public Information Director
  • Built relationships with audience as DJ
  • Wrote news stories
WUGA, 91.7 FM (An NPR Affiliate)
1989 - 1990
  • Stringer reporter for local breaks during “All Things Considered”
  • Produced two 4-minute news features each week.
  • Assistant director for “Once in a Blue Moon,” a live variety show for Peach State Public Radio.

Education
  • Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (ABJ)
  • University of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication, emphasis in radio

Volunteer Experience
  • President of the Parent/Teacher group at Little Rock Christian Academy. Increased communication between parents and faculty, raised more than $30,000 a year through fundraisers.
  • Eagle Scout (class of 1984). Raised more than $2,000 for local (Atlanta area) Leukemia research by creating, promoting, and running a Bike-a-Thon with local corporate sponsors.
  • Short-term Missionary to Mexico and Seoul, South Korea

Letter of Reference from Wayne Kinde

A physical copy of this letter appears in my portfolio in book form.

March 20, 2006

To Whom it May Concern:

I've worked with Mark Whitlock at Thomas Nelson as co-workers for over a year and have seen the kind of commitment and loyalty I admire in an employee. When an opening arose within my publishing division, I jumped at the chance to inquire if Mark was available. It was December 2005 when I hired Mark to join my staff as a Senior Acquisitions Editor, and it was the beset decision I could have ever made. Not to sound too flowery in a letter such as this, but for me it was a life-changing hire.

In taking the various strengths tests, Mark ranked very high in strategy. This was a critical piece of my business that I needed. But more than that, I saw in Mark a relational person (not highly likely in someone so strategic) who could bring a strong sense of cohesiveness in relating to authors, agents, and fellow co-workers. This relational side of Mark is what was most dynamic in my life, both professional yand personally. Mark prayed with authors and agents while he was speaking with them. There wasn't a time when Mark didn't ask them, "How can I pray for you?" To my knowledge, Mark always asked me the same question after each of our weekly meetings. And we prayed. Sometimes it was gut-wrenching and we cried together.

This is the kind of person Mark became in my life; yes, more than just a great employee who had a great strategic mind, saw the big picture, executed well in everything he did, and made awesome presentations. He was a friend, a person who cared more about the relationship, looked for ways to help others on the team, and a great man of God who had Him in his mind. And it showed.

If I were to make any more hiring decisions, I would attempt to look for a man or woman just like Mark Whitlock. I give him the highest recommendation a Vice President of a $250 million business could make.

Respectfully submitted,

Wayne R. Kinde

(contact information available upon request)

Letter of Reference from Bob Lepine

A physical copy of this letter appears in my portfolio in book form.

February 4, 2004

To Whom it May Concern:

I had the distinct pleasure and joy of working with Mark Whitlock for more than a decade at FamilyLife. I hired Mark to come to work with us as we were launching a new daily radio program, "FamilyLife Today," in late 1992. Mark brought skill and commitment to his work as the recording engineer, and editor for the program. He viewed his work as a vocation more than a job, and gave himself fully to any assignment. I most appreciated his creativity and his discerning ear as he listened critically to each program we were creating. He was fully engaged in what he was doing.

Mark's transitioned from the broadcasting team to our publishing division and brought greaet skill and creativity to that area, as well. His portfolio speaks for itself. The projects that were under his direction were created with excellence, and a commitment to quality and substance. He dreams big and presses others around him to fresh ways of thinking about resources and products.

If I can answer any questions you might have about Mark and his time at FamilyLife, please don't hesitate to call.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Bob Lepine

(contact information available upon request)

Letter of Reference from Gregg Stutts

A physical copy of this letter appears in my portfolio in book form.

February 2, 2004

To Whom it May Concern:

For just over three years, I had the privilege of managing Mark Whitlock as he led our product development efforts at FamilyLife Publishing. Mark is without question the most energetic, optimistic, and creative person with whom I've ever worked. In fact, one consultant referred to Mark as a "genius." Along with these traits, comes a man with integrity, compassion, and the heart of a servant.

The products that Mark almost single-handedly created for us have generated millions of dollars in revenue and will continue to do so. He is leaving big shoes for someone to fill.

His vision, creative leadership, enthusiasm, and energy will be missed. He is a can-do, "charge the hill" guy who is not content with current results or the status quo. If you're looking for someone to make a difference and work toward aggressive goals - Mark is your man.

The ideal environment for Mark is where he is able to bring his creative energy to bear on a project. He is able to take plain vanilla and turn it into a multitude of flavors and textures. He sees what's possible, not what "can't be done."

Mark will add great value to an organization. If you believe that might be your business or organization, I would be more than pleased to talk with you about Mark. Feel free to call me or email me at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Gregg R. Stutts

(contact information available upon request)

Letter of Reference from Bob DeMoss

A physical copy of this letter appears in my portfolio in book form.

February 10, 2004

To Whom it May Concern:

A number of years ago, Mark Whitlock and I worked at Focus on the Family for Dr. James Dobson. Last year, our paths crossed again when I joined the staff of FamilyLife. What a real privilege it has been to have worked twice with such a talented and gifted man.

Without hesitation, Mark is one of the most creative persons I've ever known. He's much more than a strong writer and "big idea" thinker. He has this knack of seeing beyond "what is" to "what could be." His insights and optimism are infectious.

Indeed, Mark is a real gem for the right company.

Keep in mind, Mark's level of creativity and his "can do" attitude are not for everyone. If you need someone to function with a "business as usual" approach, Mark is not your man. That would be like harnessing a race horse to plow a field.

If, however, you want someone who draws outside of the lines, who uses more colors than a Crayola jumbo pack, and who sticks with the drawing until satisfied with the finished product, Mark is the guy you want on your team.

Like any visionary, Mark sails the highest when appropriately tethered by a support team who can help him with the nitty-gritty details. Properly equipped, he's unstoppable.

On a personal level, I've watched Mark in action with his family on many occasions. He is a deeply devoted husband and father who is actively involved in the lives of his wife and children. I believe his care and commitment to them carries over into his passion and integrity on the job.

If I can be of further assistance, don't hesitate to call.

Sincerely,

Bob DeMoss

(contact information available upon request)

Letter of Reference from Betty Rogers

Here is the text from the letter of reference from Betty Rogers. A physical copy of this letter appears in my portfolio in book form:

February 11, 2004

To Whom it May Concern:

I am delighted to write a letter of reference for Mark Whitlock. He was my manager for over four years as Product Selection Manager and then Acquisitions Editor in the FamilyLife Resource Department.

I was saddened to lose Mark as a co-worker and manager. He and I had worked on many projects together. I researched for him and attended brainstorming meetings on new products. Mark is so creative that if you gave him a topic, he could name 15 products or versions of it and then 30 ways to market it! He always thought of marketing ideas that had never been done before by FamilyLife. All of the products he developed were very successful.

Mark motivated those around him to believe in themselves, new products, and new ways to do things. I learned so much from him and he gave me many opportunities to grow. I developed several new products and improved existing ones. He was passionate about everything he did - very dedicated and articulate. He generated energy and excitement. He is definitely outside-the-box. He made coming to work fun and challenging - each day unique. He often wrote notes of encouragement and praise that were specific, not general. I always felt like I had spent my time with purpose and actually accomplished something every day. I am a more useful employee to FamilyLife as a result of working under his leadership. He also made me feel like a co-laborer instead of a person reporting to an authority. As young people say - there was no fear - just freedom to develop and contribute my thoughts freely.

If you desire a person who is a man of God working with excellence, loyalty, and creativity, then you should hire Mark Whitlock. Everyone in your company will be a better employee and person just from being around him.

In His service,
Betty Rogers

(contact information available upon request)

Note from a Team Member

I received this precious note from one of my team members. I hope that the leader discussed in this note shows up more days than not.

Links

Please follow these links to writing samples from my career. These writing samples are held by various copyright holders.

I am a published author or co-author of several resources:
Simply Romantic Nights
A Very Veggie Family Adventure
Simply Romantic Secrets
50 Nights of Family Fun
Wizards, Hobbits, and Harry Potter
Passport to Purity
3:16: The Church Experience Workbook

Series of fundraising emails for Nashville Public Library Foundation.

Feature article for FoxFaith.com at the release of "Horton Hears a Who." This article was released to BeliefNet's monthly entertainment newsletter list.

Feature article for FoxFaith.com at the release of "Moondance Alexander."

Cover Story for regional magazine, MD News.

Article written about my dad, baseball, and the lessons of life. This article was published in a local magazine in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Please look over the Family Fun Discussion Guides for Walden, Fox, and Anchor Bay.

Jonah: A Very Veggie Family Adventure (Foreword)

The Strangest Word in the English Language.

United Airlines has a regular feature called Row 22, Seats A and B. I wrote my own version of this serial. Unpublished.

Article about my experience as a bearer of the Olympic flame. This article appeared in Arkansas Health and Wellness Magazine.

A patriotic piece.

A Christmas remembrance.

Article written about Thomas Nelson's reference tools. Published in several places on the internet.

Thomas Nelson Tenure

I joined the team at Thomas Nelson in March of 2004.

They hired me as a ministry consultant for the Eastern Region. I served ministries, churches, seminaries, and Christian businesses along the East coast, Southeast, Arkansas, and Illinois.

During my tenure, I exceeded my sales goals ($1.8M and $2.1M) and helped with the release of several big titles from Charles Stanley, John Maxwell, and Dennis Rainey.

I am most proud of two projects.



I had the privilege of helping the sports ministry, Upward Unlimited, create its new player's Bible. In the past, they had used a full text New Testament. Their research showed, however, that the kids weren't interacting with the Bible. Very few had opened it. The readership statistics of the magazine included in the package every player received were much higher. Nelson's success with BibleZines allowed us to help Upward combine the magazine content with a four-color presentation of the gospel of Matthew. More than 500,000 were printed during the first year. Upward received rave reviews from parents whose children were reading and interacting with the Scriptures. Upward has renewed their relationship with Nelson for two more years. More than 800,000 copies of the Gospel of Mark will be distributed this year.

This project was significant because I was used by God to help thousands of children interact with the Bible. I was blessed by God through this contract as well. It was the largest contract our division signed during 2004.



Don Wilton's book, Totally Secure, was a pleasure to acquire for Thomas Nelson. This book was more than a sales invoice. We developed a strategy for Dr. Wilton's broadcast interests and wrote a marketing launch plan for the book.

In January of 2006, I was recruited by the Reference and Electronic division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Wayne Kinde named me his Senior Acquisitions Editor of the $10 Million publishing unit "General Reference". I set out to accomplish three goals:
  • Mine the rich backlist of titles to create a new generation of tools

  • Develop ways to use modern typesetting and graphic design techniques to make reference books more accessible and fun to use

  • Create a new line of "inspirational reference" books to crack Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Books-a-Million (i.e., travel, writing tools)


During my time as Senior Acquisitions Editor, I worked on a number of projects. My favorites:

How to Get Ready for Short-Term Missions


Smart Guide to the Bible Series


Everyday Reference Series (4 books)



Nelson's Student Bible Handbook

Simply Romantic Nights

Simply Romantic Nights is the most successful resource I've worked on.

What is it?
Twenty-four date night adventures for married couples packaged with first-rate teaching on why God created romance and sex in the first place.

Best-seller Status
CBA overall list, #22, April, 2002
CBA marriage list #5, April, 2003
Christian Retailing list #23, February 1 - 15, 2003
Christian Retailing list #79, February 16 - 28, 2003
amazon.com #23, February 14, 2003



My Role
I served as the resource creator, project leader, and marketing champion.
  • Wrote the date nights

  • Wrote or adapted articles for the book

  • Recruited other writers

  • Gave artistic direction for graphics and manufacturing

  • Wrote marketing plan, purchased media, created ads, wrote and produced radio commercials


Samples
You can hear some of the marketing pieces at my iDisk site.

A full copy of this resource is available upon your request.

Customer Reviews
Some users have posted at ChristianBook.com
Others have posted at FamilyLife.com
Amazon.com comments can be found here.
Comments at BarnesandNoble.com
Focus on the Family continues to feature the resource.


A sequel, Simply Romantic Secrets, was published. The ministry sold out of the first print run of 25,000 in six months, but decided not to reprint due to the cost of production. You can read a user comment here.

Excerpt from Jonah: A Very Veggie Family Adventure

Note: This article appeared as the foreword to the discussion guide within the product.

Everything You Need to Know About Family Adventures (But Didn't Know to Ask)
As you and your family experience Big Idea's first VeggieTales movie, Jonah, your children are being set up for dozens of teachable moments. A Very Veggie Family Adventure is designed to help you capture them and plant biblical truths deep into the hearts of your children. And because it's from Big Idea, FamilyLife, and Zonderkidz, you can expect to:
  • laugh so hard that slushy comes out your nose
  • apply biblical answers to the real-life questions that your kids ask
  • grow closer and communicate better as a family
  • make lifelong family memories
Journey Through the Adventure
Capturing teachable moments can be as difficult as finding a public restroom when you're potty training a two-year-old. To help keep you moving, we divided each adventure into easy-to-understand pieces. Every adventure follows the same five-step process. As Jerry Gourd might say, it helps you "eat the jelly donut one bite at a time."
May God generously honor your attempts at leading your family spiritually.

Packing for the Adventure
Most items you will need for each adventure are found in and around your house. Each session begins with a list of what you will need to complete all ativities. Feel free to make any substitutions you find appropriate.

Jonah's Journey
When you were in school, did you ever study the details of a subject and then forget the overall concept? That happens often in Bible study. Sometimes we can't see the ocean for the seashells. This section is designed to help keep the ocean in view when your family gets together.

Jonah's adventure is not myth, allegory, or fairy tale. It is as real as the book you're holding. Jonah's story is a miracle--a storm that begins and stops suddenly, a fish that swallows a man (but doesn't digest him), and a massive city dropping to its knees in repentance.

Our children need the framework of Jonah's story--along with the message behind the events--to fully understand the ten lessons taught by the movie and this resource. While this is an optional section, we encourage you to enjoy this activity and make it a part of each family adventure. Your family has an opportunity to learn this story in such a way that you will never forget its messages.

The video includes a song called "Jonah's Journey, " which reviews the entire story found in the Bible. (Words to this song are found on the tabletop map.) This song will help you teach your children the chronology of the story in a fun, easy, and memorable way. We've also included a tabletop map of Jonah's journey that will help you review the story and tie it in to real places.

For those of you who have a little more time and/or desire a more interactive approach, you can find ideas on-line at www.familylife.com/bigidea.

Behind the Scenes at Big Idea
Bob and Larry start off each video segment of the adventure. Then you'll go behind the scenes at Big Idea Productions and meet the people who work on the stories starring your favorite Veggie characters. These people give you a sneak peak at some movie-making fun while sharing how they use the lessons found in Jonah in their own lives.

Anchors Away!
This section outlines the easy five-step process that walks you through the adventure. Follow each step, if you like , or use this section as just a guide to help you keep the adventure moving. As you read through the adventure before your family night, make notes so that you personalize these guidelines in a way that best suit your family.

Captain's Log
Every good adventure has a record of events. As you move through the adventure and end each one with prayer, create your own personal memory log. Write down the date and your prayer requests as you conclude each session. As God answers your prayer with "Yes," "No," "Wait," or "I have a better plan," record His answer as well. This is a good tool to use for further communication with God. Use pages 135 to 140 as your Captain's Log.

Swab the Decks
Make cleaning up fun (Okay . . . how about tolerable?) for your children. At the end of every adventure, you'll discover a crazy method for disposing of trash and putting away supplies.

Dropping Anchor
Concepts are best learned and remembered through repetition. Between adventures, remind your family to reflect on what they learned by posting these cards on your refrigerator. Refer to them every day as you fetch milk, juice, dinner fixings, and late-night snacks.

Jonah: A Very Veggie Family Adventure

What is it?
Then get-off-the-couch, laugh-out-loud family devotions from the biblical account of Jonah.



FamilyLife assigned me to work on overall constituent response to our Jonah promotion.
  • Co-authored the resource

  • Wrote and directed three video segments for resource

  • Worked on marketing plan

  • Wrote some of the direct mail piece

  • Wrote some of the email blast


Results
More than 35,000 copies of the resource sold in less than 12 months. Big Idea considered us one of the strategic partners in the success of opening night.

One family posted comments here

A full copy of this resource is available upon request.

Passport to Purity

Passport to Purity is one of the most significant projects of my career.

What is it?
"Everything you need for a life changing weekend getaway with your preteen. Five teaching sessions on audio by Dennis and Barbara Rainey used to facilitate conversations between a father and son, mother and daughter, or single parent and child. Topics include the authority of the Bible, peer pressure, the facts of life, purity, and dating.

More than 80,000 copies have been distributed since its release in 1999. It has become one of the most successful resources for FamilyLife and is now considered a classic purity resource.

I served as the overall project leader. I wrote the teaching and dramatic scripts. You'll even hear my voice at points. I supervised the original graphic design, produced some of the audio and supervised the production of the rest. You can read about my team on the credits page. I also wrote the content for the original website.


Comments
I invite you to read a few of the stories that have been sent into FamilyLife.

You can also read additional comments at amazon.com

Worldwide Challenge, the official magazine of Campus Crusade for Christ, featured Passport to Purity in a recent article.

Original Cover:


New Cover:


A copy of Passport to Purity is available upon request.

Wizards, Hobbits, and Harry Potter

In 2001, FamilyLife reviewed the top search terms on familylife.com.
#1 sex
#2 divorce
#3 Harry Potter

The ministry regularly addresses the top two, but had not uttered one word about #3. Number 11 on the list was "Pokemon". In 2001, I was assigned a research project: develop outlines for broadcasts and a web-delivered information sheet regarding fantasy literature, video games, and Pokemon cards.

The response to the broadcasts was so large, the ministry asked me to expand my findings into a book and radio special. The book, Wizards, Hobbits, and Harry Potter was born in 2002. Christian retail embraced the book and it found it's way into all of the major chains and online retailers. The book was featured in Parable's and LifeWay's direct mail catalogs.



The article on Tolkien was used in an edition of FamilyLife's online magazine, The Family Room. It is available at my iDisk site. You'll find the article on page 23 of the PDF>

The article on "The Power of Story" was used as a two-part commentary on "FamilyLife This Week." Listen to the records by downloading them from my iDisk site.

Day one audio begins at 21:08
Day two audio begins at 9:43

Adore Him

After the success of Adorenaments, we decided that we would like to produce some ancillary products. Music made the most sense.

I served as Executive Producer for FamilyLife. I traveled to Nashville to meet with record companies and secure a music publishing partner. I also wrote, recorded, and post-produced the devotionals.

"Adore Him" contains twelve Scripture memory songs based on the core verses from Adorenaments. We also included ten devotionals voiced by significant names in Christian Ministry like Kay Arthur and John MacArthur.

Frank and Betsy Hernandez, the award-winning writers of "Hide 'Em in Your Heart", were secured as the writers.

The project was released for the Christmas season in 1998.



Adorenaments sales increased in all channels and the CD itself endured for several seasons and reached the top 20 kids CDs during December 1998.

Listen to samples in the "Adore Him" folder.


Catalog copy:
Help your child worship Jesus this Christmas with these 12 fun, easy-to-learn songs. Before you realize it, your child will know 12 Scripture verses and more deeply comprehend the character of God. Written by Frank and Betsy Hernandez, the co-creators of "Hide 'Em in Your Heart," these are songs your family will enjoy year round.

As an added bonus, you can hear today's top communicators - including John MacArthur, Steve Green, and Dennis Rainey - gently explain the great truth behind each name.

Spiritual Ops

In response to Operation: Iraqi Freedom, FamilyLife asked me to serve as a team leader for a prayer campaign. We called it "At War and On Our Knees."

The campaign consisted of:

  • Five broadcasts on "FamilyLife Today"

  • Local media interaction including securing TV interviews for Dennis Rainey

  • Coordinating with other ministries within Campus Crusade fro Christ

  • Interviewed former and existing military personnel and their spouses to create a prayer card. We also created a lapel pin that served as a reminder to pray.

  • More than 20,000 cards and pins were distributed within 14 days.


The card still exists in PDF form for download. The ministry occasionally discusses military issues and offers the card.

Front and back:


Interior:

Friday

FamilyLife's Turn Off the TV Fast

During the last several years, FamilyLife has exhorted families to fast from television during August. In 2002, we created static clings as creative reminders. These vinyl images affix to your television screen as a reminder to keep the TV off.




I created fifty TV-free ideas that were posted on our website and delivered in a daily email to subscribers.

Broadcasts during July recruited families to pledge their commitment to turn off the TV.

In 2003, we expanded the ideas and published them in Fifty Nights of Family Fun. This book has had a successful run at retail and was picked up by Wal-Mart.



FamilyLife presented the plan here.

Two-Tenths of a Mile

This article was written for Arkansas Health & Living Magazine in 2002.

“Hold it high!”
As I turned to begin my leg of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Torch Relay, those words echoed in my mind. As I lifted the golden flame above my head, I thought about the advice of countless track coaches: the most important part of any relay race is the baton exchange. Carrying the Olympic Flame as one of more than 11,000 Torch Bearers proved this once again. Reflecting on my role in this 13,000 mile journey, I am reminded of three important life principles.

Life is Short
The Torch earers gathered together at a local grocery store before being shuttled to where we would receive the flame. All those dressed in white, silver, and blue shivered and shook hands. I met the man who would pass the flame to me and the man to whom I would pass the flame. Both of their stories reminded me that our lives are like mist that appears for a little while, then vanishes. In the same way that each Torch Bearer only carries the flame only two-tenths of a mile, our lives are but a short distance here on earth.

I received the flame from Dan, a grocery store executive. He was excited about running through the neighborhood where he grew up. He told me, with a twinkle in his eye, about the area and some of the changes that had occurred since he lived there. Then the twinkle disappeared momentarily. An armed robber had killed his son. His son was the manager of the grocery store we stood in front of—the same store that was destroyed by a tornado a few years ago. The twinkle returned as Dan talked about his wife and other children. He also wondered aloud about whether his life is making a difference.
The man I passed the flame to is named Dennis McCrackin.

Dennis is the longest surviving heart transplant recipient in the state. After I ignited Dennis’ flame, we shook hands. He looked me squarely in the face and said, “What I’m about to do, I do in honor of all the families who gave the gift of life through organ donation.” Later that night, I wished him another 20, 40, even 60 years of good health. With the same determination as earlier, he said, “Mark, I’ve been given more time than I ever expected. I could die tonight without regret.”
I left the celebration determined to make my life, even if it is as short as my torch run, matter as much as these men’s lives.

Stormy Weather Friends Exist
Arkansas winter visited roadway Street that night. Despite the cold and the rain, Lee, Chuck, Jeff, Todd and their families cheered me northward of my journey. Seeing their faces, I realized this wasn’t the only bad weather we had experienced together. These men have been there when life has pounded the hardest.
And it was my best friend of all, my wife Kaye, who nominated me for this honor. I think her smile may have been brighter than the flame I carried.

Wisdom Matters
I’ve been asked often, “What does the Torch Run mean to you?” The run is an analogy of my life. It’s my job to receive the flame from my parents, carry it faithfully for a short time, then pass it to my children. The flame is wisdom—skill for everyday living.

As I made the final turn of my two-tenths of a mile, I saw my family waiting on the corner. There, standing next to my parents, were my three children. It was the perfect picture to finish my run. My parents have taught me so much about integrity, generosity, and the importance of family. My children are still wide-eyed learners soaking up as much as they can about life. May I be found a faithful bearer of the flame of wisdom.

Thursday

StrengthsFinder

The entire staff of Thomas Nelson went through Marcus Buckingham's book, Now Discover Your Strengths and the associated strengths inventory.

The inventory created this profile for me:

Top Five Strengths:
Belief
Ideation
Strategic
Input
Communication

The report defines these gifts as follows:

Belief
If you possess a strong Belief theme, you have certain core values that are enduring. These values vary from one person to another, but ordinarily your Belief theme causes you to be family-oriented, altruistic, even spiritual, and to value responsibility and high ethics-both in yourself and others. These core values affect your behavior in many ways. They give your life meaning and satisfaction; in your view, success is more than money and prestige. They provide you with direction, guiding you through the temptations and distractions of life toward a consistent set of priorities. This consistency is the foundation for all your relationships. Your friends call you dependable. "I know where you stand," they say. Your Belief makes you easy to trust. It also demands that you find work that meshes with your values. Your work must be meaningful; it must matter to you. And guided by your Belief theme it will matter only if it gives you a chance to live out your values.

Ideation
You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection. An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges. You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle. You love all these ideas because they are profound, because they are novel, because they are clarifying, because they are contrary, because they are bizarre. For all these reasons you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual or even smart. Perhaps you are all of these. Who can be sure? What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough.

Strategic
The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, "What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?" This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path-your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: "What if?" Select. Strike.

Input
You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information-words, facts, books, and quotations-or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don't feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It's interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

Communication
You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. This is your Communication theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives. You want your information-whether an idea, an event, a product's features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson-to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.