When Colorado residents Mimi Wilson and Shelly Cook Volkhardt met almost 24 years ago, it wasn't long before they discovered they were, in the words of Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), "kindred spirits."
"That led to our long-time prayer partnership. We have seen God move mountains and, literally, 'the hearts of kings.' Those big and small miracles have bound our hearts even closer," Wilson explains. "Delightfully, our husbands are best of friends as well."
Trusting in His Goodness, the duo's latest book, is the result of this close-knit relationship and a unique writing process.
"We decided a long time ago that if we can't write in the middle of life, it wouldn't be authentic. There is vitality in material that has been processed through real life. We've spent many happy days with me working on the computer at the kitchen table while Mimi cooks, prays, and dictates," says Cook Volkhardt, whose passion is to encourage women to find out who God is and what difference He can make in their daily life. "Other times we make early-morning phone appointments and work several hours, both still in our pajamas with our Bibles, computers, and cups of coffee. We've also written into the wee hours of the morning curled up against the dryer in a friend's laundry room."
In an effort to block out surrounding noises, the women often use a white-noise machine. "We ask each other, 'Where would you like to go today?' Then we choose the ocean waves, a tropical rain, or a rushing stream to accompany us while we work," Wilson says.
But during much of the writing process, Wilson and Cook Volkhardt actually have been on separate continents. With poor communication and unreliable Internet connections, they have had to say, "Over!" to let the other know that she could talk.
When it comes to the actual writing of the book, they have established well-defined roles. "The material comes out of both of our lives and experiences. We depend heavily on Mimi's gift for insightful illustrations and my English Lit history for the writing part," says Cook Volkhardt. "We both have editing and veto power, although there has never been a point of disagreement."
Wilson, who says nothing has influenced her more personally than the study of God's goodness, says that she and her writing partner agree that they don't write to learn; they learn and then write.
"That's why we haven't written many books. Everything we write has to first be 'squeezed' through the fabric of our own lives," Wilson says. "We share what we are learning with each other and process our growing understanding along with the illustrations and examples God brings across our paths. Once it has become a part of who we are, we teach it to others (one-on-one and in groups) and learn from their responses to the principles. Only then do we write.
"Trusting in His Goodness represents ten years of that process in each of us."