There are certain things in life that we anticipate, imagining we know what they’ll be like before launching into them: marriage, parenting, traveling abroad and remodeling a house, to name a few. If you’ve ever done any of these things, you know our naïve and enthusiastic visions rarely match up with reality.
One thing that fell into that category for me was writing a book. I’d wanted to do it for many years and always hoped it would happen when the time was right. I didn’t know what I would write about, but I believed God would give me the experience and inspiration in his timing. It lurked in the back of my mind, but was not a goal I pursued actively.
And then, in the spring of 2015, the opportunity was dropped in front of me unexpectedly. The Coordinator of my church’s women’s Bible study asked if I would consider writing a study for the group. I had been writing weekly blogs in conjunction with our lessons for the previous three years, so she was confident I could do it. I appreciated her belief in me but knew it was a daunting task. In spite of this, I realized it was a tremendous opportunity for an aspiring writer. After praying and talking it over with my husband, we agreed this was the prompting from God I’d been waiting for.
I was given a few parameters and the topic of “Women of the Bible.” Needing to narrow down the field, I decided to choose the women in Jesus’ family line, not really remembering exactly who all of them were. I wanted the study to point to Jesus and thought these women were sure to do that. However, once I started researching them, I was a little intimidated. If you’ve ever read about Tamar in Genesis 38 or Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 & 12, you know they are not easy chapters to navigate. Despite some unsavory stories and complicated characters, I pressed on, sure that God would reveal truth through them. Each time I sat down to research and write I was energized and inspired, making the hours in front of my computer seem like minutes.
Five months later, I felt like I’d made nine new friends from studying the intimate details of their lives. I’d spent the summer with Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, taking them with me on trips or spending quiet hours at home while my kids were gone. Even the most difficult characters with the messiest stories revealed God’s amazing redemptive plans (in fact, some of them became my favorites). By early fall Women of the Word: The Family Tree of Jesus was finally finished and ready to be printed at the church so that 180 women could study it together.
Once the book launched, I spent another several months actually doing the study and leading two different groups of women through weekly discussions on the lessons. Watching them grasp the concepts I’d been pondering for months was an amazing thrill. In some cases, their questions and comments helped me to see the characters even more deeply or to recognize the places I needed to add more information or write clearer questions. (And sometimes it was embarrassing to find editing errors I’d missed despite the hours I’d spent proofreading it.)
I was humbled as women in the groups asked for additional copies of the book to share with friends and family. This led to the third leg of my ever-lengthening journey with Women of the Word as I began the process of preparing the materials for publication through an online service. Suddenly I went from being a researcher and writer to being an editor, graphic designer and layout artist. Until then, I never cared about the process of choosing just the right font or asking publishers for copyright permissions. The number of details requiring my attention was astounding.
I set many deadlines for myself and watched each one pass with items on my to do list still unfinished. There were times when I thought it would never be done, but by the end of summer, the last few glitches finally worked out. I received a final sample copy in the mail for approval and looked at it with fear and wonder, hardly fathoming that the journey was coming to an end.
By the time it was finished and ready for purchase, it had taken sixteen months—longer than it takes for a baby to gestate. I had no idea how involved the process would be when I started (which was probably a good thing). And just like marriage, becoming a parent, living through a remodel or traveling abroad, there were many unexpected situations along the way—some positive, some not. Yet all of them provided significant opportunities for growth and learning. And in the end, I must admit, I would do it again…. When the time is right.
The newest version of Women of the Word: The Family Tree of Jesus is the result of many hours of research, writing and prayer. It was also born as a result of countless conversations and numerous people lending their support in different ways (you can read their names in the acknowledgements at the back of the book, if you’re so inclined). If you haven’t had a chance to do the study, I hope you’ll consider taking a look. If you have done it, would you consider recommending it to someone else?
The process of writing it and studying it with others blessed me significantly and expanded my faith exponentially. My prayer is that God will use it to draw others closer to him as they gain a deeper understanding of his Word and his plan of redemption for all people.
Click on the link to read the official description and to learn more about Women of the Word: The Family Tree of Jesus. I would consider it an honor to have you study it.