In January I flew to the Dominican Republic to spend a week with my friend Jamie. She and her husband Matthew had been living and serving at a ministry in the DR for over a year, and I was eager to see them. I had never been to the Caribbean, and honestly, I really wanted to spend at least one week of the winter months in a warm climate. The timing was perfect for me—I had spent that whole year trying to close on my construction loan, making decisions as my house was being built, moving in, and then deciding how to make my house a home from scratch. I certainly enjoyed most of the process, but still…I needed a break. Or rather, I needed a change of scenery to look at my life from a different perspective.
So I was pumped for this little getaway with one of my best friends. Jamie and I had met as college freshman, and we had remained close through the years. When I arrived in the DR, it was so cool to see how she was thriving in a foreign culture. At the time, Jamie and Matthew had a 17-month-old son, and Jamie was 8 months pregnant with their daughter. I was proud of her for being brave as she raised her son and prepared to deliver her baby girl in a different country. I was also thoroughly impressed with her driving skills through the unpredictable Dominican traffic and with how well she spoke Spanish with the people everywhere we went—the supermarket, the bank, the salon, etc.
During that week, we took a day to go to the Cabarete beach, which is the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. The water was such a rich teal color, and it wasn’t too hot or too crowded. Jamie recommended that I try the jugo de limon, which was a cold lime juice slushy. And I felt so happy and spoiled drinking my lime slushy on the beach IN JANUARY. We also hiked to see two different waterfalls, had lunch beside a beautiful river, and ate dessert at a restaurant way up in the mountains that had probably the coolest view I’ve ever seen.
I was able to relax and live in a different world while I was there. When I had downtime during that week, I read Maya Angelou’s book I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings. This is Maya Angelou’s memoir about her childhood. It is tragic yet also beautiful. This was just one of many memoirs I have read in the past few years, but this time it was different. I honestly can’t say that this book was my favorite or that it’s a book that I want to reread. But as I read it, I felt like God was prompting me, What are you waiting for? Now is the time to start writing your own memoir.
So I told Jamie about it. We were sitting in her living room as her son took his afternoon nap, and I said to her, “I think God wants me to write a book.” Then I shook my head. “But isn’t it so presumptuous and weird to think that people would want to read my stuff?”
Jamie didn’t answer immediately. I could tell she was trying to understand how I felt. After her pause, she looked at me. “I don’t think you need to feel sheepish about sharing your writing with others.” She told me that a few of my blog posts had really encouraged her, so at least that was proof that my writing was beneficial to others.
I sighed, and then without thinking, I told her, “I’ve read that good editors make good books, so I would first need to find a good editor.”
After I said that, I was kind of surprised at my own words. Where did that knowledge come from? But then I realized that I had been casually researching writing a book for several months, and I knew more about the process than I was letting on—even to myself.
Jamie smiled at me. “Well, then we’ll pray that God will send you a good editor. And if He does, then you’ll know you need to keep moving forward with this.”
So for the next month, we prayed for God to connect me with an editor. I realized that God speaks to us differently in different situations. When I was praying about whether to buy land and build a house, God spoke to me very clearly, 4 days in a row, to confirm to that I needed to buy land and build. But as I was praying about writing a book and finding an editor, I didn't feel God's promptings in the same overt way. Instead, as I kept making excuses in my mind of why I shouldn't write a book, this time God simply reminded me of how He had been calling me and preparing me for years:
So I finally decided that I would stop making excuses. I would stop being ungrateful. I would stop burying this talent/gift/training (whatever you want to call it!) that God had so graciously given to me. I would trust that He gave it to me for a reason; in fact, He gifted me for the purpose of sharing that gift with others. It still makes my head spin, and it still makes me nervous that you’ll think I’m being presumptuous. But God has gifted each of us in unique ways for unique purposes, and what would happen if we stopped burying those gifts? Who would benefit it you shared your gift? What are you waiting for?
I finally thanked God for the writing classes that I had been able to take. I submitted to His promptings, and I decided that NOW is the time to write my book. So I emailed one of my writing profs from my undergrad days and asked her if she would recommend an editor for me. A few days later, she emailed me back with the contact information of an editor that she had very high praise for.
And that’s how I got started. That’s when I knew that 2015 was the year I would bring this book to life.
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.