I found her name in my Bible among the other noble women of faith: Queen Esther, Ruth the Moabite, Mary, Rahab, Sarah, and Shelly.
On a 3x5 card, in the middle of the Psalms, there she was - Shelly Beach. I didn’t know her, but she was intruding on my anniversary getaway. Next to her name was the title of a book. I don’t remember writing the words, but the handwriting was mine, so, after purchasing a copy on my Nook, I settled in to read.
Discovering that the author lived in Michigan, I had one of those “this-is-destiny” feelings.
It turned out that Ms. Beach is a co-founder of the Breathe Writers Conference. My husband signed me up right there in our room overlooking the Little Traverse Bay. The sun was warm through our window, and I’ll never forget the moment.
My brother was the one with the 170 IQ and graduated from UCLA as an English Major.
I hated writing, and most schoolwork for that matter, and even stole one of his papers to use for an assignment in 9th grade. The paper was so good that the teacher had me stand up in class and tell everyone where I had gotten the idea. Not so good. School was a necessary evil, but… I loved to read and came to partially discover what constitutes good writing: attention to detail, passion, calling, vulnerability, sweat, and blood.
All I had to do was look at Jesus to understand the sacredness of words and the cost required to pen them.
Four months later I drove through the October melancholy that writers love so much, to a lovely church where I would meet my destiny-moment, face-to-face. I met Shelly Beach and the others who brought the Breathe Conference to life. The language of the day was foreign to me, but the love present was the familiar language of a loving God.
My husband delivered roses to me there with a note, “I love your story. Write it!”
Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor with Morgan James. Since I didn’t know enough about acquisitions editors to be intimidated, I asked him if we could chat after which he warmly expressed his interest in my ideas. “Send me your stuff,” he said, but… I didn’t have any “stuff.” Months later, a mentor’s conference under my belt, daily 4:00 a.m’s at my computer, and a book proposal to Terry Whalin, I had a contract. The impossible happened to the least likely and most under-qualified.
To write, you must forgive.
Write about what you know. Expect to bleed.
Do it as an act of worship.
You probably won’t find the name Shelly Beach in the middle of your Bible, but you’ll find the sacred name of Jesus, calling the least likely and most under-qualified to do the impossible.