The Best Part About Writing A Book (It Might Not Be What You Think)

April 2, 2014 | 38 comments

It was the day after my book released. The phone rang.

“What’s been the best part of all this?” my friend asked on the phone.

I tilted my head, holding the phone against my shoulder, while I loaded the dishwasher. The clothes-dryer thumped a steady beat of zippers in the background. And there was this crunching sound coming from the living room –which, if you’re a mom, you would likely recognize as the sound of a Minecraft guy digging his way into some hidden, pixelated underworld.

A wide smile stretched across my face. I knew right away what the best part of “all this” was.

Now, mind you, there have been a lot of really, really good parts.

I mean, I’ve loved so much about the last week — and I’ve documented a lot of it, the way a Type-A mama records every moment for her newborn’s scrapbook. (To be clear: I am the kind of mama who kept her girls’ umbilical stumps, preserving them for perpetuity in Ziploc baggies.)

I’ve snapped photos of my newborn book-baby in stores and on shelves, and I have mugged like a proud mama grinning at the nursery window.

I’ve been giddy and teary, and when my book popped into the top 1,000 for all the books on Amazon, I thought I might just faint.

Yeah, I told my friend, there have been a lot of great moments on the book journey.

Like the time I signed my agent on my 40th birthday. (That was two years ago.)

And the time Tyndale gave what felt like an unlikely yes to an unknown writer. I was sitting in a Subway parking lot when I first heard the news, and I squeezed my sandwich so hard that mayo squeezed out onto my pants.

I cried the whole way through writing the epilogue, until I dropped the final period.

And I cried some more when I typed these words into the dedication:

“To Lydia and Anna: May you always know the love that is already yours.”

I loved it when the first book showed up on my doorstep, when the first woman told me it mattered, when teen girls in California made #preapproved bracelets, and when all these women starting shattering their idols like warriors who made me feel brave. Because that’s why I wrote the book — for other women like me, who needed to know that they were loved, as-is.

But the best part? My favorite part? Here it is:

It happened on a Sunday morning — the day before my book released.

We walked into our country church late, just after Art rang the bell, and I tugged at the girls’ arms to rush them through the glass door. We found a seat on the left, and the pastor asked if anyone had any announcements.

I had just settled into my pew when my friend, Jenn, suggested that the whole church pray for Love Idol  and for you.

Pastor Rich called me up front. Red-faced, I joked that I was glad I hadn’t been a few minutes later than I already was. And then my friends rose, one by one, to join me at the front of the church. We stood under that old wooden cross nailed to the wall.

They were all right there with me: Trish and Bill and Hazel and Helmer and Angie and Joyce and Char … and my favorite farmer. All these people in the last chapter of the book, and sprinkled throughout the book, they rose to pray. I felt their hands on my back and on my arms.

And I felt the peace of God in my heart.

They prayed for you, under that country steeple.

And during the whole prayer, I felt this one tiny hand on my back, rubbing circles upon circles into me. It was Anna. My Anna.

She was behind me, my girl. I think she wanted me to know it was all going to be okay, no matter what. And she kept rubbing circles. And I think this must be how she feels, when I rub circles onto her back, on all those nights when life feels kinda hard in third grade, and she just needs to know she’s loved and cared for, and that even if it’s dark outside, it’s going to be okay.

Yeah. That’s been the best part.


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by | April 2, 2014 | 38 comments


  1. Sybil Brun

    Big Hugs & warm congrats on your book release! Thanks for hosting this link up! : )

  2. Cheryl Smith

    This was so precious, Jennifer. It brought tears to my eyes, thinking about my own dear boy and how he supports every single endeavor I attempt. We are so very blessed by God to be Mamas…and wives to Godly, supportive men. God is good. So thankful for you and the blessing you are to me! Love, Cheryl

  3. Laura Risser Moss

    Wow. What a sweet and powerful picture you’ve painted here. And what a precious church you belong to. I’ll say a prayer for you all, too.

  4. Jenna Guizar

    BEAUTIFUL, Jennifer. Seriously. What a sweet and cherished moment to have with your baby girl. My goodness, keep telling stories for forever, my friend. You make my heart sing. ~Jenna // A Mama Collective

  5. Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

    Yes. That’s the best part for sure. Hands down.
    So pleased, happy, giddy, excited, thrilled for you, Jennifer!
    May God use the book to bless millions of women around the world!

  6. Debbie

    This is such heart warming post to read! Thanks for sharing with us, and thanks for hosting!

  7. Jillie

    O.K. Jennifer…First question: Did you REALLY preserve your girls’ umbilical stumps in Ziploc bags??? I mean, I love my kids too, but eeeuwww!
    This was such a sweet post. Saw Anna in my mind’s eye, rubbing those comforting circles into your back–I still think she has the eyes of an “old soul”. She has the understanding heart of one much older than she. Bless her heart.
    And to think that your people, in your church family are praying for US, we who are or will be reading your book–there is nothing so precious as that! I cannot wait to get my copy in my hands. I need this book. I need recovery from my own Love Idol(s). Bless you, Jennifer. Enjoy the ride!

  8. Janet

    I am so proud of you! I feel like I know you; you’ve shared so much (and I’m pretty darned new to your blog…) I can feel your heart as big as that Iowa sky, and your love shows in the actions of your precious girls. You know how we’re told, as writers, to show not tell? You have a gift for showing AND telling what relationship with Jesus is all about – Thank you for sharing that gift.

  9. Beth

    Just beautiful. So beautiful. I will begin reading your book tomorrow as I travel to see my son and his wife and then pray God (and your beautiful words) help me to let the two of them know over and over again how they are PreApproved and quite possibly draw them a little closer to God. Love you, friend. You are such a blessing.

  10. JViola79

    Tears streaming! Thank you, ALL of you who prayed at the country church, for praying for me. For all of us. Amazing how God has linked so many of us together on this journey. Now that is truly the amazing part! Blessings!!!

  11. Lisa notes...

    You’ve got us all crying now, Jennifer. But good tears. So thankful God is using you and your book. And I think the best parts are even still yet to come!

  12. ro elliott

    beautiful… a beautiful picture of what part of your “seat belt” looks like 🙂

  13. KristinHillTaylor

    I have chills, the kind of chills that remind me God is orchestrating all kinds of details so we can trust him and follow him and bring him glory. You’re a beautiful example of seeking after what matters.

  14. sheila @

    CONGRATS, Jennifer! So happy for you and praying along with your country church that many hearts will be helped by your words. ENJOY all the excitement of your first-born book! And PS…I LOVED your “best part.” Blessings and more blessings…

  15. Jen Ferguson

    This is beyond beautiful…those little hands, right? Somehow they touch us more deeply than all the world’s applause.

  16. bluecottonmemory

    Just started reading – and it’s with me in my purse. Making me think – I’m not so much a pleaser as someone who wants to avoid criticism, negative attention. Raising teens has really helped me come face to face with that. I am learning that there are those who should love you and don’t: no amount of wooing can win them. I think I really need this to encourage me to stop trying and let God! Thanks for sharing your heart – and CONGRATULATIONS! (Doing a blog review next week:)

  17. Sarah

    Beautiful picture of a daughter returning her mother’s love. Just beautiful.

  18. lindalouise

    Okay, going to get a tissue now. This is so sweet and so right Jennifer. I love you friend. xoxo

  19. soulstops

    oh, sweet Anna….and you 🙂 Just stunning.

  20. Jennifer Camp

    Oh, now I’m in tears. Wow. Just beautiful, Jennifer. Just beautiful.

  21. Michelle DeRusha

    Oh. My. Gosh. This is awesome. Love, love, love this.

  22. Melanie Dorsey

    Love, love, love that – those circles of love…

  23. Elisa Pulliam

    You gave me wet eyes — to have a body of Christ like that . . . and to do all this writing with the girls God gave you. Sweetness.

  24. Holly Solomon Barrett

    I am always so humbled by others’ prayers for me. I’m sure that day in your church must have been so special. Great to know that we, your readers, were part of those prayers too!

  25. Kelly Greer

    I will never forget the prayers you and your girls prayed over our rocks – the ones where we wrote down the things that were getting between us and our God-sized dreams. That video, your girl holding my rock and praying away my fear and doubt and guilt. So powerful Jennifer. God heard those prayers and has been healing me ever since. I know the Lord hears those faithful prayers in your little country church. I am standing with you and pray that the Lord would do a mighty work in the hearts of all who read Love Idol, to walk in the freedom of knowing that there is nothing more that they have to do or be to be fully loved. They are already #preapproved. Love you Jennifer!

  26. Laura Lynn Brown

    Awww. This made me tear up. In a good way.

    This reminds me of the time a friend was in labor and she managed to fall asleep for a little while in the hospital room. The sound that lulled her to sleep? Her baby girl’s heartbeat on the fetal monitor.

  27. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Jennifer, I’d have to agree….your daughter(s) sound like they are full of Jesus, too. Tears and smiles.

  28. Jennifer Bush Dorhauer

    What would we do without our families–those we’re tied to by blood and by Spirit. God it good. It’s good for your daughter to see you needing prayer, too.

  29. Elizabeth Stewart

    I’ve got tears reading this. I love your heart for your girls, your people.

  30. Donna

    Congratulations! Off to get your book!

  31. pastordt

    Well, that made me cry. Good tears. Very good tears. And that Anna – I love that girl I’ve never met.

  32. Lyli Dunbar

    Sweet Anna. I am sure you have rubbed circles in her back, and she’s learned well.

  33. Heather_Mertens

    That would a great moment indeed, Jennifer.

    Can’t wait for my copy to arrive to experience it along with your words. 🙂



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