After fighting the battle of her life three years ago, Karen McGowan learned the true meaning behind her faith and found the strength to write three books about it.
"My story, basically, is about faith," said the Martinez resident. "Faith is not a religion or denomination. It's what lies deep down in your heart."
During the Christmas season in 2005, McGowan contracted a communicable illness and was admitted to Doctors Hospital, where she worked as a registered nurse.
She later was discharged, but found herself back at the hospital four days later with respiratory distress. By Christmas Eve, the illness had progressed and she was on life support, McGowan said.
As a result, the disease damaged 30 percent of McGowan's lungs and she contracted pulmonary fibrosis, which causes shortness of breath, chronic fatigue and other respiratory problems, she said.
At one point, McGowan said doctors gave her 12 hours to live.
"It was what happened in those 12 hours that this book is really about," she said. "It's that faith to take the step to keep pressing forward."
While in the hospital, McGowan said she promised to serve God in whatever way she could and in turn, she was inspired to write about God's unconditional love, teach others how to strengthen their relationship with God and share her own testimony.
Faith to Finish and Finding Faith to Finish, an accompanying handbook for teaching, both took about two years to finish and were published last December.
In Faith to Finish , McGowan chronicles her near-death experience in the hospital and her relationship with God.
Finding Faith to Finish is designed to teach readers how to deepen their faith, she said.
That relationship with God, McGowan said, gave her the faith to finish her life's race. Coincidentally, McGowan's own middle name is Faith.
"I always thought I'd like to write a book, but you never really see yourself doing it," she said. "I'm just so grateful that I got to experience something I've always dreamed of, and actually, putting my words, my feelings and my thoughts on paper was an incredible thing."
McGowan then turned to Graphix Network, which helped her self-publish her books through the Christian Writers Network.
The books not only describe McGowan's personal story, but also include passages from scripture, said John Hill, owner of the Evans business.
"Karen is a special lady," he said. "It's a very well-written, very compelling story."
McGowan said that though she was comatose and could not move, she could hear friends, family and the medical staff throughout the whole ordeal.
She said she hopes readers gain a sense of comfort knowing that unconscious patients can still hear loved ones.
In addition to publishing her first books, McGowan also sings and shares her story at area churches.
"My desire is to go and share," she said. "I take my oxygen with me. That doesn't matter to me, so I'll go wherever (God) leads."
In April, McGowan published Privilege of Prayer , which originated during a speaking engagement at Faith Baptist Church in Blythe, Ga., and acknowledges the women at that church. Her third book addresses the significance of prayer and why it's essential in achieving a relationship with God.
"Karen is not really interested in making money as much as she is at sharing her story," Hill said. "She's a really good person that deserves an opportunity to share her experience. It'll enrich other people's lives."
The books can be purchased by contacting McGowan at email@example.com. They also are available at the Whole Life Ministries bookstore and at Trinity Hospital of Augusta's gift shop.
As for more writing, McGowan said she would enjoy writing additional works in order to help others.
"My greatest reward will be one day to know how many lives they've touched," McGowan said. "That'll be the best."
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