'He was steering my life'
When Gordon Sorenson was young, English was not his strong suit.
"I got C's and D's and F's in composition and English, and C's in public speaking," said the Iowa native. "I never considered myself a writer. I didn't like public speaking. I hated it."
But when he became a preacher, he had to write sermons and speak from the pulpit.
"That got me started writing," he said, "because I had to."
Fifty years later, Sorenson is a published author. His memoir, "Just an Average Kid from Iowa: A Journey of Faith," was a year-long project, finished in 2008. The book is a record of Sorenson's life. It features many short stories, which he says are "fond memories of growing up."
"I just kept writing, and things would just keep coming up," he said. "When I remembered something, I would write it down."
The book begins with stories from when Sorenson was 3 years old, and he said he actually remembers stories from a young age.
"They will always be imprinted on my brain," he said, "because (some of those stories) were kind of traumatic for me."
The stories are never-ending with the 72-year-old Sorenson. His eyes light up with each memory, and his deep, chesty laugh resonates with every funny account. From growing up in California, to his obsession with trains, to how he met his wife, his stories could keep anyone interested for hours.
Anyone, except his wife Betty.
"I've heard these stories so many times," she said, laughing. "He likes to talk. You can tell, he's a writer. He's a detail person. But I like the Reader's Digest version."
Throughout 51 years of marriage, Betty has heard all the stories. The couple met in California when Betty was the "Rose Parade Queen Runner-up of 1955," Gordon said.
"I mean, she was a knock-out," he said, as she rolled her eyes. "I saw her in the choir (at church), and said, 'Whoa.' But she wouldn't give me the time of day."
Eventually she did, and the couple has since lived around the country, in Arizona, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, California, Michigan and Minnesota. They lived in Concord, Minn., while Sorenson was preacher at the Old Concord Church of Christ. He has since retired, and he and Betty live outside Houston for the colder part of the year.
And along with preaching, Sorenson has had an array of jobs, such as hauling meat and driving a log truck. The jobs put bread on the table, and gave Sorenson a different view of the world, he said.
"I don't like ivory tower ministry," he said. "I like to be able to be out where the people are. When I stand on the pulpit, I want to speak their language. I know these people work hard and have brutal jobs sometimes. I can speak to that."
Sorenson and his wife also hosted foster children and were house parents for a boys' home in California, all of which are stories in the book.
"It was a lot of fun bringing up all those old memories," Sorenson said. "People keep telling me, 'You need to write another one.' But I'm not sure what to write next."
For now, Sorenson said he hopes this book will be an inspiration to young people who are wondering where their life is going and if God exists.
"This can speak to those issues," he said. "I point out over and over again. God was there. He was in that. He was steering my life."