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How did I get published?

This is one of the most common questions I hear when I talk about my books. I am not unique in having a lot of things I want to say, right? But I do have the distinct and rare privilege of getting to say them in writing, backed by an established publisher. Thousands of other ministry leaders could write wonderful books, but getting published is a whole other matter. So how did that happen?

Honestly… I didn’t make this happen. Getting to write for the United Methodist Publishing House must have been God’s idea, because I clearly cannot take credit for it. What I can do is tell you the story.

Years ago (maybe in 2014?), my church sent me, the Director of Children’s Ministries, and my colleague Karen, the Director of Youth Ministries, to a conference for Christian educators. We mostly split up and went to different sessions throughout the weekend, but Karen insisted on dragging me with her to one particular session on ministry to tweens, since that age group overlapped both our ministry areas. I remember playing some tween-friendly group games and listening to Nathan, an editor with the United Methodist Publishing House, as he walked us through a PowerPoint presentation.

Back at church, Karen pitched me a grand idea for an event we should develop together for parents of tweens, which we would call BeTween. She wanted to invite Nathan to the church to lead training and conversation with parents, and she said we could use this as a chance both to empower parents of preteens and to recruit them as volunteers (because we were sneaky). Honestly, I was indifferent about the idea. Maybe even resistant to it. Event planning is not my thing, and this wasn’t my idea, and I only went along with it because I didn’t have a good reason not to. Karen persisted, and we set up the event. To her great delight, Nathan agreed to come speak.

The event was actually a great success. Afterward, Nathan engaged me in conversation about ministry, working with parents, and church work. To my absolute surprise, we hit it off and talked for probably 30 minutes. He shared about his work at the Publishing House, and I shared my philosophy of ministry, which resonated with both of us.

This one conversation changed everything.

Fast forward several years… John and I moved our family back home to Lexington, KY, and I took a part-time position at a church. People asked what I planned to do with my extra time now that I wasn’t working full-time, and I really didn’t have a great answer. Wear more yoga pants? Get involved in the community? Read more books? Change the world? As ashamed as I am to speak this next bit of Christian-ese, I can’t help myself: God had a plan.

About a month after moving and changing jobs, Nathan from the Publishing House called me out of the blue. We hadn’t talked much beyond that workshop event he led for Karen and me, so I was surprised to hear from him–and even more surprised to hear his reason for calling. He said that they were looking for someone to update and re-write a book on preteen ministry and wondered if I was interested? I’m just shaking my head as I write this, because that just doesn’t happen, right? Suddenly it made sense why this was the right time to move to part-time work in the town that felt like home to us. I was perfectly positioned to take on this big, life-changing project.

I’m not sure I even let him finish the question. YES. Sign me up. Put me in. I’m here for this. I’ll do you proud, Nathan. I hung up, ordered the book I was supposed to update, and started dreaming, planning and writing. By the time I started the actual writing process, Nathan had moved to another opportunity, and he left me in the hands of an amazing person who became my editor, mentor and friend.

In short, I owe my role as a published author to other people’s care for me. To Karen, who pulled me in to that conference workshop and then recruited me into co-leading a church event that I never, ever would have touched before. To Nathan, who traveled from Nashville to Louisville, for free, to lead an event on a Sunday afternoon, and still had the brain cells and heart left over to engage me in conversation and listen to all my soapbox positions. And really, to my husband, who earned a promotion that allowed me to move from full-time to part-time compensation and then absolutely whooped and cheered and said he would sacrifice literally anything to enable me to write this book.

All my opportunity has come through people who lifted me up. I hope to be that kind of person in many more lives.

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