Marina Shelton knows how to communicate through writing, so adding author to her resumé isn’t a far stretch.
But the topic of her latest book is extremely personal — and includes her husband, Mason, as co-author, which is a new experience.
The social media and web associate for Kentucky Baptist Convention, Shelton said “Transforming Trials: A Study Through James” is for those who are hurting and need Christ.
“‘Transforming Trials’ is by no means complete and is by no means the most exhaustive understanding of trials that you’ll have as a believer,” she added.
“It’s an interesting concept to think about — being in the middle of your story,” Shelton explained. “So many people write a book once they have a happy ending. They try to figure out how to give advice once they get what they want.”
“That’s not what this book is and not what it will continue to be. I wrote the book in the middle of a loss, I’m still walking through another loss and I will continue to grow in my understanding of trials.”
Shelton’s loss is miscarriage. She and Mason started writing the book in March 2021, a month after their first miscarriage. Then in November, just after the book’s release, they experienced a second miscarriage.
Though “Transforming Trials” isn’t about miscarriage, Shelton does have advice from her own experience.
“Dealing with that kind of loss is something that can’t be explained in words because you’re trying to understand how to process something that isn’t tangible,” she said.
Shelton said it’s OK to feel bad and cry, but believers must remember God is still good. It’s also important to utilize support from others who have had similar experiences — and look for ways to find Christ amid the pain.
Even the experience of writing the book with her husband, a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, taught her life lessons, she noted.
“When my husband first started the first draft of the book, he wrote a little bit,” she elaborated. “He had about a couple dozen pages, and he felt from the Lord that it’s not the direction the book should go. He deleted every page and started again.”
She noted how that situation is like life.
“Sometimes you’ll walk down a certain path with the Lord, and you’ll think, ‘Oh, He’s taking me this direction,’” Shelton explained. “Then He’ll walk you completely back and down another path and you’ll wonder, ‘Does He even know what He’s doing, guiding my life?’
“Well, He does,” Shelton declared. “He knows what His plans are for you. … But you have to believe it because you can’t always see it.”
Shelton has been emphasizing this point since 2015 with her blog “The Pursuit.”
“The purpose of my writing was to help people understand that the pursuit of their first love is more important over any other pursuit,” she said. “Everything I write about is to point people back to Christ as our first love.”
The blog led to other things: In 2019 she wrote “The Pursuit of Change,” a devotional about goal-setting, and in 2020 she and 10 others wrote “Hope is Here,” an Advent devotional based on the names of God.
Communicating with readers of “The Pursuit” helped make the latest book a reality, and her goal continues — to point people to Christ.
The five lessons in “Transforming Trials” include Scripture, short studies and meditations, as well as a story from others who have experienced trials.
Shelton’s love of writing developed naturally with her mother, Kristen White, serving as a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources, Kentucky Living and other publications.
Shelton even wrote her first book — a mystery — at age 10.
Heart for ministry
Her passion for ministry also grew from life experiences.
She struggled with anxiety due to moving frequently and attending different schools. Her biggest concern was finding friends, she said.
However, that recurring trial expanded her faith.
“I asked Him, ‘Please, help me find friends,’” Shelton said, “and Him answering that prayer every time grew my trust in Him. By the time I had grown older, I was excited to be involved in the local church.”
She later led Bible studies, served as a campus ministry leader and spent time as a student missionary.
Shelton’s blog and information about ordering books can be found at thepursuitblog.co.