Intersection Column | Hindsight Reveals the “Secret” Behind the Story
by Mollie Rushmeyer
For almost eight years, I was the program director for a non-profit pregnancy resource center in the heart of the town where I received my psychology degree. It was exactly where I wanted to be at the time, where I matured in my ability to support and encourage young men and women facing an unexpected pregnancy. The days were packed full, and it was heartrending, oftentimes frustrating work. But God supplied me with an abundance of compassion for these dear young people.
A topic began circulating among mental health and service organizations like ours—human trafficking. How to spot it, how to create a safe space for women to share their experiences, who to call for help, etc. It was daunting and absolutely heartbreaking. But as I learned more about the rescues taking place and interviewed a director of a local safe house and recovery center for women who’d escaped their traffickers, I began to see that there was so much hope to be found even after something so dark.
Later, as I sensed a shift in my path and my love of writing grew, I thought back to my time at the pregnancy center. That tug for this group of women and children affected by trafficking came back to me. I wondered, “What about a few years down the road? What did that healing process look like? Could God bring something beautiful out of a past so devastating?”
I started plotting The Bookshop of Secrets and had a deep desire to tell that story. Not the one about current abuse, but the one about the girl who got away and didn’t live happily ever after but found hope and a life “after.” This is not a fairytale. Instead, it is a story where mental health is dealt with realistically, where healing is hard-fought but hard-won and where God is invited into the heart of it all to do what only He can do—shape something beautiful out of even the darkest, most broken places of our lives.
What I didn’t expect, no one ever does, was the medical crisis I would endure while writing this book. In the winter of 2018, I had a stroke that affected the right side of my brain. Yup, the brain’s center for creativity. Afterward, I thought I’d never write again. I was certain this path I had been so confident in had diverted, but where to, I wasn’t sure. As my brain rebelled along with my body, I tried to make my peace with it, believing this was God’s not-so-subtle way of telling me writing was no longer in the plan.
But I thank God that wasn’t the end of the story for my writing journey or this book. A sudden deluge of ideas, plenty of tears, constantly challenging my brain to adjust and make the new connections it needed, a newfound purpose and a stubborn faith all took root. These pushed me to the finish line and those two sweetest words: The End. I celebrated proving to myself I could still write a book.
Then the book sat a while, it was shopped around, but no real bites. I was okay, satisfied with this reconfirmation of my pursuit of writing, that God brought me back this thing I thought was gone forever. And I tucked the story away. I did what authors do in the waiting room, I wrote. I finished another book and was hyper-focused on seeing that one published.
My agent called one day, saying, “Are you sitting down?” To which I, of course, stood up. I was gobsmacked to hear her say that not only did someone want to publish the book, but it wasn’t the one I had just finished writing. It was The Bookshop of Secrets.
With God, we rarely see the whole puzzle together at the outset. It’s only in the looking back we can discern all of the pieces that had to fit together to create the vision He’d had all along. Even then, there’s much we probably don’t and won’t understand this side of heaven. But when I think of this debut novel of mine, I know it was no accident that God took a story about a human trafficking survivor who learns beauty can grow out of the ashes of her life—a story I thought was dead and gone, never to be seen again—and resurrected it, giving it new life along with the dream in my heart of becoming a published author.
He’s good like that. He unfolds beauty one layer at a time. Takes His time. Perhaps so we have to stop, listen, pray and appreciate each loving, carefully thought-out imprint of His hand on our lives.
About the Author
Mollie Rushmeyer writes contemporary fiction with a heart for history, a blend of modern settings and fascinating historical elements. She makes her home in central Minnesota with her husband and two beautiful daughters. She is not only a bibliophile (the dustier the better), she’s a true Britophile at heart.
About the Book
Hope Sparrow has mastered the art of outrunning her tragic past. Coming to the quaint town of Wanishin Falls in search of her family's history already feels too risky. But somewhere in the towering stacks of this dusty old bookshop are the books that hold Hope's last ties to her late mother—and to a rumored family treasure that could help her start over.
Did You Know?
Many species of plants can take decades before blooming. The longest to mature may be the Puya raimondii, which takes 80–150 years. Most of these exotic plants die soon after they bloom. For our “I want it now” world, not many would have the patience or inclination to cultivate a plant they may never see bloom. There are lessons to be learned for the older human who feels life has passed them by and wonder if all hope is lost for a “shining moment.”
Actress Kathryn Joosten left her position as a psychiatric nurse at the age of 42, then struggled with her acting career until age 70 when she landed a significant role in The West Wing.
Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book, Little House on the Prairie, at age 64.
And, of course, there are the biblical examples. Moses and Joshua were 80 when they reached their calling. Moses led the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey; Joshua completed the work of Moses in conquering the Promised Land. Abraham did not see God’s promise fulfilled until he was 100.
The list goes on of many who waited decades to bloom in their ministry or their career. Unlike the impatient gardener, God has designed each of us to bloom at the right time and place for His glory.
-Linda Wood Rondeau, Lessons Along the Way
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I love shopping in a bookstore because its doors are always welcoming. I love seeing the excitement on the faces of those who open a book and find encouragement, friendship, love or take a new journey. Nothing can replace a bookstore’s warm walls and friendly faces.”
-Christi Grace, My Hair-Raising and Heartwarming Adventures as a Pet Sitter