By N at h a n Wh i ta k e r
Tony was reluct ant to single out people specifically,noting how many people made this book possible, both by direct participation as well as in the entwining of their very lives into Tony and Lauren's, and thereby into the fabric of these pages. Although he's right?we're bound to forget people?I had far too much help with this book to not attempt to recognize those who assisted.
We are grateful for the time and memories of Jerry Angelo, Jim Caldwell, Vernon Cheek, Clyde Christensen, Jackie Cook, Mark Dominik, Herm Edwards, Leslie Frazier, Loren Harris, John Idzik, Craig Kelley, Tom Lamphere, Rich McKay, Mark Merrill, VeronicaPinto, Tim Ruskell, Donnie Shell, Alan Williams, and Ruston Webster.
Recognition is also due the pastors who have ministered to Tony and Lauren so faithfully through their married life: Richard Farmer, Charles Briscoe, Steve Gould, Ken Whitten, Abe Brown, Jeff Singletary, John Ramsey, and Clarence Moore. D.J. Snell of Legacy, LLC, in his dual roles as our literary agent as well as a brother in Christ, has been invaluable with his guidance and vision for this book, as has Jim Dodson, with his assistance and encouragement on manuscript concepts.
Our faith in Tyndale House Publishers has been borne out by the work of Jan Long Harris, Todd Starowitz, Sarah Atkinson, Doug Knox, Mark Taylor, Dan Elliott, Lisa Jackson, Jeremy Taylor, Bonne Steffen, Erin Smith, Sarah Rubio, Dean Renninger, and the rest of the outstanding staff. In addition, I have been carried by the assistance -- sometimes through encouraging word or prayer, other times through more direct roles with the book -- of Don Buerkle, Dom and Karen Capers, Brian and Cindy Clark, Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, David French, Chan Gailey, Matthew Hartsfield, John Kingston, Buddy Moore, Betsy and Mike Mularkey, Phil Pharr, Rob Rose, Heath Scheisser, Charlie Skalaski, Todd and Christine Stockberger, George Woods, and John Wunderli.I am incredibly thankful for the assistance of Lauren Dungy,who balanced a desire to shield their already public life with the knowledge that sharing their experiences might affect lives. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless her tremendous impact through her partnership with Tony.
I couldn't have done this without the support of my wife, Amy, who kept faith in me long after mine had started to falter; my precious daughters, Hannah, for sharing me and for finding the comma we needed on page 72, and Ellie Kate, for stopping the banging on my office door long enough for me to finish; and my parents, Scott and Lynda Whitaker, for their belief in my vision and substantial editing assistance.
Tony, you were "Jesus with skin on" throughout this process, in good times and tough. I will forever be grateful for your faith in me and this project and for allowing your story to be told so that others might be encouraged and edified by it. You are a remarkable man with a remarkable story.Most of all, Tony and I are grateful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for bringing us this far in the journey of our lives, a journey of hope, joy, and the promise of eternal life.
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. Booker T. Washington