Starting a new venture later in life has not always been the norm. Sharing that new venture with a lifelong friend is even more unusual.
But in their 50s, Anna Nash and Katy Shelton have co-written a devotional, “Christmas Matters: How the Birth of Jesus Makes a Difference Every Day.”
Led to write with a practical focus
Two years ago, Shelton decided to read a chapter from Luke during each of the 24 days before Christmas. Though raised in church, she had a difficult time understanding practical applications from some passages.
“At this point, I called Anna,” Shelton recalled. “I said, ‘So, I’m confused about some of these parables. What would you think about writing a short book to explain some of [them] in simple terms about what they mean today?’”
Nash’s response was, “Absolutely not.”
She said it had previously been done by others with more Bible knowledge.
But after praying, the women agreed that God was leading them to write a Christmas devotional with a practical focus. “Christmas Matters” was the result.
Avoiding ‘church lingo’
Each chapter contains an overview verse from Luke, a reflective reading, thoughts or questions about the reading, a prayer and a biblical promise. Nash and Shelton avoided using “church lingo,” wanting it to be easy to understand for those with and without a church background.
Neither of the women ever imagined being co-authors. However, later in life each felt God had more planned for them.
“I think we both as empty-nesters weren’t ready to retire,” Shelton explained. “We were stay-at-home moms taking care of our kids. When our kids left, we lived in different states and weren’t super close at that point. But we separately both felt inspired to do something.”
Nash discovered a passion to help others in times of transition, so she founded Beacon People, explaining that “the Lord inspired me with some new thoughts of truth that I felt very burdened about, along the lines of God’s calling and aligning that with His Word — for the purpose of our lives in His Kingdom, for our satisfaction and for His glory.
“We are image-bearers. I couldn’t stand to not say it.”
Blogging about her new passion led to developing a curriculum for Beacon People, but Nash knew she didn’t have the skills to pull it off without help.
“That was around the same time I was turning 50. I attempted to write because when I believe in something, I want to communicate about it in any way I can,” she said. “I do think I’m a communicator, but I don’t think I’m a good writer.
“I’m a ‘recovering’ Bible-belt ‘performance girl,’” Nash admitted, “and a lot of that means I have to be able to do it all and do it well. [I have learned] to be able to breathe and say, ‘That’s what the Body of Christ is about. Anna cannot spell right; Anna cannot complete a sentence or do the right punctuation and that’s okay,’ because there are others around me with that gift.’”
Nash knew of Shelton’s blog and developing writing skills, and decided to reach out.
“I did not even attempt to start writing until I was 50 years old,” Shelton said. “Growing up, I was not a reader at all. I probably didn’t start reading for pleasure until I was in my 30’s. I was a late bloomer as far as reading and writing.
“[However], just because you haven’t attempted something before you’re 50 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.”
Working together helped the women learn “more than we wanted,” Nash joked, adding, “As we launched the book, I was speechless and so humbled that we have the privilege of doing this … that we’re childhood friends, lifelong friends. And yet, in this stage in life, who gets to do that with their best friend?”
“It’s been quite a process writing a book and getting it published,” Shelton added. “Working together we have learned so much more about each other. We each have strengths and weaknesses in our writing, and in some ways we’re very different and in some ways we’re very much alike. It’s kind of like a marriage, where you have to work through things and figure things out and you’re better for it.
“It’s been hard but it’s been wonderful and there’s more to come.”
That “more to come” is another devotional, for the 40 days of Lent, “Easter Matters: How the Resurrection of Jesus Changes You.” Scheduled release date is February 2022.