BOURBONNAIS, IL (10/26/2017) Mary Lou Carney is the 18th recipient of Olivet Nazarene University's Maggie Sloan Crawford Award. She visited campus and accepted the award during the morning chapel service on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, in the Betty and Kenneth Hawkins Centennial Chapel.
"Mrs. Carney represents the values we seek to foster at Olivet and the values embodied by Olivet's first graduate, Maggie Sloan Crawford," said University President John C. Bowling as he presented the award. "She has a strong faith and steady commitment to God. She honed her gifts through a solid education here at Olivet and through her graduate studies. She has lived a life of service to others."
The Maggie Sloan Crawford Award is presented to an outstanding woman whose life exemplifies the highest Christian ideals and whose faith is evident in her commitment to service. It was created by the four sons of Olivet's first graduate, Maggie Sloan Crawford, as a lasting tribute to their mother.
Also attending the award presentation were several members of the Crawford family, including Marsha (Crawford) Coats, Maggie's granddaughter and previous recipient of the award. Accompanying Mrs. Coats was her husband, Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence of the United States of America.
"Most writers cannot tell you the exact day they decided to become a writer, but I can," Carney said as she addressed the gathering of students, staff, faculty and guests. "I was teaching high school in Indiana, and I met my first real live author at a conference. I came away with the feeling that writing was my destiny."
Mary Lou (Swinney) Carney, a 1973 graduate of Olivet, sold her first story for $10 to Nazarene Publishing House in 1977. Today, she is the author or co-author of 23 books and has served as editor for three Guideposts magazines. She has also enjoyed a varied career as a teacher, educational consultant and public speaker. In all she does, she strives to encourage others and point them to the truth of God's Word.
Carney's love for poetry resulted in her first published book, "Bubble Gum and Chalk Dust: Prayers and Poems for Teachers" in 1982. "Heart Cries: Prayers of Biblical Women" is the book she considers to be some of her best work. Her toughest "sell" to a publisher was "Bible Knock-Knocks and Other Fun Stuff." Finally published by Abingdon Press, it was in print for nine years. One of her books, "Angel in My Locker," received 21 rejections. Regardless of the results, she has faithfully pursued the career God gave her.
"As a Christian writer, your job is to reach instead of preach," Carney said. "Being successful is a combination of knowledge, creativity and commitment. Anytime you increase any of these, you increase your chances of being published. Always accept the challenges."
When she entered Olivet as a freshman, Carney wanted to become a social worker. By the time she graduated, she had decided to dedicate her life to teaching children. She holds a bachelor's degree in education from Olivet and a master's degree from Valparaiso University. In 1993, she received Olivet's "O" Award, the highest recognition given to an Olivet alumna or alumnus.
"Olivet reinforced me for the value of servanthood," she says. "At Olivet, I learned that the true measure of success is servanthood."
Olivet Nazarene University is an accredited Christian, liberal arts university offering more than 140 areas of undergraduate and graduate study, including the Doctor of Education in ethical leadership. Olivet's 275-acre park-like main campus is in Bourbonnais, Illinois, 50 miles south of Chicago. Additional sites are in Rolling Meadows and Oak Brook, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Grand Rapids and Grand Ledge, Michigan; Hong Kong; and more than 100 School of Graduate and Continuing Studies learning locations throughout Chicagoland and the Midwest. From Oxford to Tokyo, hundreds of Olivet students also experience the global classroom each year through study abroad opportunities, internships and worldwide mission trips.
Public Relations Specialist
Olivet Nazarene University
Bourbonnais, IL 60914