Pulling A Biddy: Michelle Ule–Author Of Mrs. Oswald Chambers–& A Giveaway

“I took a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow by myself on what happened to be my wedding anniversary, looking for a man at a train station carrying a copy of My Utmost for His Highest!” 

“You did?” I say aloud, smiling over my favorite line of Michelle Ule’s author-interview notes to me and admiring her bravery. She was “pulling a Biddy,” as she calls it–confident in God, no matter the circumstances.

Michelle asked the train-station stranger, a member of the Oswald Chambers Publications Association, “Have you thought about having a biography written about Biddy?” (Shortly after Oswald Chambers met Gertrude Annie Hobbs—later to be a Chambers—he nicknamed her “Beloved Disciple,” which shortened to “B.D.” And she was “Biddy” for the rest of her life.)

Sitting across the table from her now, steam rising off his Scottish meal, the stranger laughed. “Who knows? Maybe you’re the one to write it.”

Michelle shook her head. “I’m a novelist.”

As time progressed, Michelle continued to pen her novel, which includes Oswald Chambers as a marquee character, but the stranger’s words, regarding writing Biddy Chambers’s biography, lodged deep into her heart. And while climbing through the pages of Oswald Chambers’s history, she fell in love with his wife, Biddy.

Why, Michelle? Why did you fall in love with Biddy? What was it about her? My hand glides over the notes that I’ve read repeatedly, over Michelle’s words that have wedged into my heart. I press God for direction on writing about Michelle seeking Biddy. In confusion, I hug my daughter and say into her golden hair, “I can’t do this.” Some things are too big for me. I google an image of the book cover of Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God on the internet and ponder direction. My computer crashes–the blue screen of death–and I know in my heart that it’s no accident because resistance signals importance. And I know in my heart that I must press forward. Because I want to pull a Biddy, like Michelle. I want to see what Michelle saw, with her heart, in Biddy’s heart.

DSC_8516 (2)DSC_8531 (2)Because I knew that Oswald Chambers wrote My Utmost for His Highest, the best-selling devotional in print for over 90 years. But I didn’t know that his wife did his bidding some 10 years after his death. He died at 43, you see.

Turning the page of my interview notes and slipping further into pain, I long for time and distance to clear. Because I want to wrap Biddy and Michelle in a hug. You see, Biddy found herself a widow, a single mother, and penniless at 34. But like so many, Biddy knew hardship. She had suffered from acute bronchitis as a teen, and as her health declined, her parents pulled her out of school.

But desiring to help her family financially, Biddy became a spectacular stenographer, according to Michelle, producing 250 words per minute. And in her days with Oswald, she recorded by hand every lecture that he presented to the missionary trainees at their Bible Training College. After his death, instead of choosing security, somewhere hovering over that beloved grave-site, dressed in stark black and wearing a full veil, she placed both feet on the path of poverty and spent her life turning those notes into 30 books with Oswald’s name on each cover.

Biddy published all of his books after he died.

Rolling every penny back into producing the next book, she didn’t use the money for herself or her child.

Their daughter Kathleen shared: “If my mother hadn’t had bronchitis, she probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity of learning shorthand to that extent. My father always used to talk about God’s order in the haphazard, and that was haphazard in a way. If she hadn’t had the shorthand speed like that, there wouldn’t have been any books at all. None whatever.”

Those books. Biddy reserved the right to mail those books, free of charge, to missionaries around the world, and she would do that–encourage them with Oswald’s words–for 30 years, because knowing Jesus and sharing the Gospel was of utmost importance to them.

DSC_8585 (2)I turn the page of my notes to find more devastation: the London Blitz of WWII destroyed all the books warehoused near St. Paul’s Cathedral. Biddy hadn’t insured them, and the loss threatened to end her publishing house. Biddy said, “If that’s God will, we’ll do something else.”

But Biddy found books and publishing plates, and she resumed her self-publishing ministry.

“Biddy Chambers’s life,” shared Michelle, “is one of a woman devoted to God’s greatest glory, despite obstacles and difficulties that would have challenged the best of us. She remained committed to God and the vision and calling He put on her life, despite countless heartaches. From her, we can learn a great deal about faith, commitment, and the ways God uses the unexpected, the haphazard as it were, to produce blessings to a lost world. My Utmost for His Highest would not have been written if Oswald Chambers had not died. Is a book worth a life?

“If you think over the last 90 years–from the encouragement My Utmost for His Highest gave people through financial depression, war (copies were smuggled into POW camps during WWII), political oppression, and general life–a deeper understanding of what it means to love God came through the work of one woman who gave her utmost for God’s highest glory. Can we do any less?

“My personal faith has grown as a result of spending the last 4 years with Biddy and Oswald. It’s been an honor to bring this story to light, and I’m grateful I could participate.”

Why, Michelle? Why? Why did you give 4 years to Oswald and Biddy? I turn my notes over, as a smile inches over my face, and scribble over the page: Love. That’s why. It all backtracks to love–the kind that sinks down and lodges deep into a heart.

DSC_8556 (2)And with much of her life paralleling Biddy’s as she wrote and traveled through the Chamberses’ history–rejoicing as they rejoiced, mourning as they mourned, suffering as they suffered–Michelle endured as they endured, regardless of the obstacles and setbacks along her writing journey of Mrs. Oswald Chambers.

You did.

Michelle Ule pulled a Biddy.


MBDCompressed 1 - CopyBestselling author Michelle Ule is the biographer of Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional and seven other books. You can learn more about her and read further blog posts about Biddy and Oswald Chambers at her website: www.michelleule.com.

You can also find Michelle on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Michelle is giving away one paperback copy of Mrs. Oswald Chambers, which released October 17, 2017. Leave a comment below for a chance to win! (Winner randomly selected October 31, 2017 and must have Continental U. S. mailing address.) You can find the book at Amazon or Baker Publishing Group, as well.


Biddy's Cover - Copy - CopyAmong Christian devotional works, My Utmost for His Highest stands head and shoulders above the rest, with more than 13 million copies sold. But most readers have no idea that Oswald Chambers’s most famous work was not published until ten years after his death. The remarkable person behind its compilation and publication was his wife, Biddy.

Bestselling novelist Michelle Ule brings Biddy’s story to life as she traces her from her upbringing in Victorian England to her experiences in a WWI YMCA camp in Egypt to her return to post-war Britain, a destitute widow with a toddler in tow. Refusing personal payment, Biddy published thirty books with her husband’s name on the covers, all while raising a child alone, providing hospitality to a never-ending stream of visitors and missionaries, and nearly losing everything in the London Blitz during WWII.

This inspiring story of a devoted woman ahead of her time will quickly become a favorite of anyone who loves true stories of overcoming incredible odds, making a life out of nothing, and serving God’s kingdom.


To Michelle: I’m so in awe of you for giving your utmost for God’s highest glory. I hear you, all the way from California to Texas. You make me love God more. Love, Shelli ♥


Have you “pulled a Biddy” like Michelle, confident in God, no matter the circumstances? Would you share? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered into the drawing for a chance to win a copy of Mrs. Oswald Chambers.


*** The winner is Jerusha Agen. Congratulations, Jerusha! ♥

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18 thoughts on “Pulling A Biddy: Michelle Ule–Author Of Mrs. Oswald Chambers–& A Giveaway

  1. Praise the Lord! This is really inspiring.

    The life of Oswald Chambers reminds me of John the Baptist. Chambers died young and so did John the Baptist. Their time of earthly ministry didn’t last long, but their words are more powerful and more far-reaching today than when they were walking the earth.

    MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST is the best daily devotional I have ever read.

    I didn’t know that Biddy self-published her husband’s books. I heard that Dostoyevsky self-published some of his works. The Lord has had me self-publish three of my own books. It all comes down to obedience.

    John 12: 24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim, thank you so much for stopping by.What a blessing you are. I didn’t know that Biddy had self-published either or that she’d compiled his books … with all those notes she took down. Just incredible. It is truly amazing what God can do with one willing heart …

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also think it is beautiful how the Lord used a stenographer to proclaim the Gospel. Who knows, maybe at one time in Biddy’s life she said, “Lord, I am just a stenographer. I am not a preacher or a teacher.” But her ability to write down Oswald Chamber’s teachings through shorthand has benefited millions of people throughout the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. damonjgray

    My situation does not compare at all to Biddy’s or the vast number of peoples who struggle to get through each day. However, there was a time wherein I was in huge trouble financially and I did not see any hope on the horizon. I had lost my job and was bringing in only $300 a month. Faced with a net income level that could in no way support me and my three children, I threw trust out the window and took matters into my own hands. As a part of this control, I reasoned that tithing was not something I could do if my children and I were going to survive the mess we were in.

    Then my conscience kicked in … or was it God’s Spirit?

    I thought of the widow of Zarephath who did not have enough food for herself and her son, yet in obedience to God, she shared what she had with Elijah. As a result, even in the midst of a famine, her jars of flour and oil did not run dry for over three years. I thought of the widow Jesus commended in Mark and Luke’s Gospels. She had taken her two copper coins “all she had” and thrown them into the temple treasury. Was this a move of desperation? Perhaps so, but it was certainly obedient. No, it was beyond obedient. It was radical! She had given all she had.

    I shared this internal struggle with my accountability partner, and he boldly said “You’re dead wrong … and you’re absolutely right.” I was dead wrong to stop tithing. And I was absolutely right to feel the conviction of God’s Holy Spirit in the matter. In my fear and weakness, I was robbing God.

    God says I am more important to him than the lilies of the field and the sparrow. Do I trust God or don’t I? Do I believe Him, or don’t I? It is not a matter of trusting God when it is easy, but rather trusting God when every reasonable and rational assessment says, “This situation is hopeless.” I had to tithe my pittance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Damon, what a beautiful testimony. Wow! I think we’ve all been there. God … I don’t know how. We’re desperate. Desperate for Him and desperate to trust Him. He will do what He says He will do. Where is your faith? I needed to hear your testimony today, Damon. Thank you for your sincere heart.

      Like

  3. Wow, Shelli, now I really want to read this book. I had no idea Biddy was the one who worked toward the publication of these treasures.
    The “Biddy” I recently pulled was to choose to trust God in the middle of a challenging circumstance I had not imagined or foreseen in a million years. My family has chosen to make room in our lives for an unexpected “gift.” His grace is replacing my fear.
    Michelle–like Biddy–like you–is living out 1 Corinthians 16:14: Do everything in love. ❤ This is also my heart's desire.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wendy Mac, you want this book. It’s just priceless. I was totally surprised to learn that Biddy did the publishing, took down all those notes … oh. my. word. And you know things were way harder then than they are today. I can’t imagine. And I think I know about your little “gift” … and my heart smiles over it. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wendy … ❤ Yeah, as you can see, a laptop might not do a lot of good. Mine crashed while working on this. Which didn't surprise me one bit. Anytime I'm doing something that means so much to me, and I know it means so much to God … this … ❤ And that's okay. That just means you're doing what you should be doing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I LOVE seeing two people I admire highlighted here—Shelli, this is a beautiful review of the book Michelle has written about Biddy Chambers. I loved, loved reading it. You give such a great glimpse into Michelle’s passion and into Biddy Chambers. I knew so little about her (still don’t know much), but I loved reading this review.

    Well done, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lovely review, Shelli! You’ve taken the inspiration of Biddy and Michelle and revealed the beauty of their efforts through your own artistic writing that is ever an homage to the beauty of God at work in the midst of darkness and suffering. Thank you for sharing this! You were definitely up to the task of highlighting Michelle’s book and Biddy’s story. You pulled a Biddy and did it well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jerusha, you are so precious. I can’t tell you what your kind words mean to me. ❤ I didn't even get upset when my computer crashed. Hard drive failure. I figured we'd have to go buy a new computer. But my husband miraculously got it going again. It was truly incredible. He knows just enough. He kept timing this certain thing … trying to get into the computer, time after time he tried … must have been over 100 attempts … he finally got in and repaired it. Just a miracle. And I never fretted. I was confident in God regardless of the circumstances. I wish I could do that all the time. 🙂

      Like

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