It was early one Thursday morning at the Perk Avenue coffee shop. We had been meeting weekly, writing together for a year, and were praying about what to write next. We had each prayed earlier that morning and had written down three ideas each that we would consider. Five of the ideas were similar to what we had been writing. We had been writing children’s books for twenty years, we knew how to reach that audience. The five ideas made perfect sense. We have contacts in the world of children’s books. It’s what God had equipped us to do…at least it seemed so. The sixth idea was different. The Shepherd’s Song. A book for adults, showing the power of scripture to change lives.
Writing for adults had always seemed way too intimidating. But as we sat and looked at the small sheet of paper we felt drawn to the idea. Were “big people” so different after all? And a larger question surfaced, was the Holy Spirit calling us into a new work? Something different? We had always written from a Christian perspective, but what would it look like to surrender the work? To go all out for God.
As we joined in this work with God we learned along the way. Here are some of our lessons:
What God uses he first reduces. A true call to write for God comes with an honest look at our own impotent humanity. We had never written anything for adults. We did not know the market, the publishers how it worked. We doubted our knowledge of theology and the Bible. In hindsight we were perfect vehicles for God to use! We could not do it on our own.
God gives us a passion for the work. Not writing the book was impossible. From the moment we said yes, God created in us such a passion for the 23rd Psalm that we never stopped writing long enough to wonder if we should be writing the book. As we worked and prayed and reflected on Psalm 23 we became burdened for the people that might need this word from God.
The Holy Spirit provides just enough for today. We had to stay so close to God during the writing because we had no idea where we were going. The book came together in about six months, amazing for us. We never quite knew where it was going. Every time we made an outline or a spreadsheet we ended up throwing it out as God directed the book in surprising ways.
Where God is at work there is opposition. Difficult times in our personal lives threatened to distract us and pull us off course. Medical challenges with our families took our attention away but we kept coming back. Over the course of writing the book we prayed for each other daily and enlisted a prayer team to pray for us.
Where God is at work there is joy. With all the hard work, the frustration, the questioning there was fun. We loved our weekly meetings at the coffee shop. The work was punctuated with laughter and excitement. Even in the difficult times the work was a gift and a pleasure for us.
When we work for Him, God controls the results. One more lesson that we are learning every day. We show up. We work hard. God controls the results. This requires patience and discernment as we go forward and continue to write for Him.
Betsy and Laurie
Back cover copy from The Shepherd’s Song: Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message. Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.” Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures. With beautiful prose evocative of master storyteller Andy Andrews’s The Butterfly Effect, this story will touch your heart and remind you of the ways God works through us to reach beyond what we can imagine.
Bio: The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is The Shepherd’s Song, Howard Books, March 2014. You can reach Betsy and Laurie at www.WritingSisters.com or www.facebook.com/WritingSisters. And here’s a direct Amazon link to The Shepherd’s Song: A Story of Second Chances.
(Image courtesy of Morguefile.com)