Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart


I’m so excited…

A phenomenal new book is releasing May 11th–a book written by one of my best and most respected friends, Steve Siler, founder and director of

I don’t want to brag, but I just received my copy of Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart. While the book chronicles the miraculous story of Steve’s Dove Award-winning songwriting journey that ultimately culminated in his founding, the book is much, much more.

Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart captures the captivating, healing, God-inspired power of music to reclaim and transform lives. 

Using the evocative vehicle of sstory, this book gives a glimpse into the healing power of music. MusicfortheSoulMusic for the Soul, Healing for the Heart relates the true-life events of how God called Steve from among West Coast’s musical elite to Nashville’s gospel and contemporary Christian music scene, where Steve would win the highest awards in Christian songwriting. But he would leave that world to follow his passion and create a ministry that focuses on soul-healing music that binds the broken and hopeless.

Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart tells how God led Steve on a journey through pop music and culture, to contemporary Christian music, then to ministry-focused music that focuses solely on songs crafted to help the broken heal. Steve’s songs are written for parents of special needs children, for those who have lost their homes to natural disasters, for those who have been sexually abused, for those who have been trafficked, for those who have experienced cancer, for caregivers, for military and law enforcement officers, for those who have lost loved ones to suicide, for those who have lost children to the pain of abortion.

Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart is not a book simply about music or ministry. It is a book about broken people, hope, and healing.

I recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt broken, known or loved anyone who has felt broken, or who works with broken people. I recommend this book to those who love music, to those who love musicians, and to those who want to better understand the God-given power of music to restore hearts. I recommend this book to anyone who has felt called to follow God’s passion for their life and followed that call in spite of the risk. And I recommend this book to those looking for well-written inspirational, God-honoring reading.

Shelly Beach

Multiple award-winning author, speaker, consultant

Diagnosis for My Heart: Dad, Asperger’s, and Me

SteppingStones-taking-a-stepI’ve referred to my father a number of times as having Asperger’s Syndrome. In my posts (and in my speaking and writing, I do not always mentioned that my father did not receive a formal diagnosis of Asberger’s but I still refer to him as having had it). I’d like to explain why.

First of all, I see my use of the term as accurate and a formal diagnosis irrelevant. It’s not an indictment of character or integrity to have Asperger’s or mental illness. My intent in mentioning the term is always to explain the relationship I had with my father and how learning about the condition brought healing to my relationship with him.

I didn’t understand or enjoy my Dad until well unto my adulthood. Learning he’d spent a lifetime struggling to understand his world gave me new insight and compassion for him. 

Following list of symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome is taken from WebMD. Each is a precise descriptor of my father.

  • Have a hard time relating to others. It doesn’t mean that they avoid social contact. But they lack instincts and skills to help them express their thoughts and feelings and notice others’ feelings.
  • Like fixed routines. Change is hard for them.
  • May not recognize verbal and nonverbal cues or understand social norms.
  • Appear to lack empathy.
  • Their preference for rules and honesty may lead them to excel in the classroom and as citizens.
  • Attention to detail and focused interests
  • Fascination with technology, and a common career choice is engineering.

I’m not sure Dad knew he had a hard time relating to others as much as other people regarded him as a bit “off” or socially awkward. Dad was a brilliant man, and quite social. But he would say things that were outright insulting, and he just didn’t understand why everyone else was upset because what he was saying was true. The family often shuddered when we were with him in public because we never knew what he might say to a stranger. He was blatantly critical of overweight people and anyone who didn’t measure up to his particular standards.For instance, he often told family members, “It must be nice to have so much money you can abuse your car by ignoring your tire pressure.” But he was generous to a fault and always giving to others and cared for Mom sacrifically and devotedly–refusing to leave her side until her death.

My father was well in his eighties when I first learned about Asperger’s Syndrome. Taking him for an exam and formal diagnosis would have served no purpose for him. But when I read about the condition, my heart pounded. It answered questions that had haunted me since I’d been a child.

I’d always thought my father to be cold and heartless.

Why didn’t he tell me he loved me? Why didn’t he hug me? Hold me on his lap? Let me explain things or ask me how I felt? See that his words stung like a slap? Understand that the way he talked insulted people? Always had to talk about his pet subjects? Always had to sound like he was smarter than everyone else?

I’d stared at the symptoms on the page, and suddenly, my dad transformed before my eyes. Suddenly, he made sense.

Dad hadn’t known how to tell me he loved me. He’d always wanted to say it but didn’t know how.

And he hadn’t seen or understood how lonely I was. How much I was hurting as a child. How many times he’d hurt me.

He didn’t know he was being rude to people. He didn’t understand.

So many other things about my father came into focus.

Asperger’s fit. Everything about my father suddenly came into focus.

My heart shifted and opened up. I never saw my dad the same way again.

I vowed to never leave my father or hang up the phone without telling him I loved him. If he couldn’t say the words, I’d say them for him.

When my dad passed away in January at the age of 92, he’d still only spoken the words “I love you” to me once. When I was 19– the night I was sexually assaulted by a rapist–a bittersweet way to hear the words. But it didn’t matter. In my heart, Dad had said “I love you” over and over to me because now I understood.

Perhaps you’ve struggled with relationships because you have some of the same symptoms of my father. Don’t waste your life drowning in guilt. Be honest and talk about it with your loved ones. You have a true limitation, and those who love you need to understand it. And if you know someone you think has Asperger’s, address the issue. If that person is your child or teen, consult a physician or mental health profession. If it’s you, I’d offer the same advice. Acknowledge their limitations and offer compassionate support. And if you’ve been hurt by someone with Aspberger’s, open your heart to forgiveness. Seek healing for the wounding, understanding that we cannot hold others responsible to give us what they do not have.

Simple Steps to Writing Success

WomanWritingID-100110284Looking back over my writing career these past 25+ years, I think I did a few things right. Not big things like majoring in journalism or doing an internship at a publishing house. Both of those things would have been wonderful, but unfortunately I didn’t have those opportunities.

I attribute my modest success as a writer to simple things my parents modeled for me.

  • I didn’t let the odds get me down. I knew I wanted to write, and I was going to give it my best effort, no matter what. No matter what people told me about how few people got their books in print, I made up my mind to do the best best I could and see where it took me.
  • I studied the craft. I learned the rules and when to break them. I studied and recognize that I’ll always need to study. If I want to be a writer, I will need to learn more about the many things I still don’t know.
  • I listened to my heart. I wrote from the places in life where God was teaching me. I watched where He was moving in my life and tried to join Him there. This meant writing about pain and disappointment and failure and not following the typical path most writers take. My writing covers a wide range of topics, from fiction to nonfiction to academic books to Christian living books to devotionals. And I’ve loved writing all of them and been blessed to partner with amazing publishers for all of them.
  • I committed to learn. Intelligent people understand that they can learn from anyone. I’m always impressed with seasoned authors who go to writer’s conferences and attend seminars that are presented by writers with far less experience than themselves. Why would they do this? Because they’re listening for something fresh and new. They have the heart of an avid, willing learner. Be open to critique, to editorial feedback, to the wisdom of those in the industry.
  • I refused to quit. I’m still learning and experimenting with new genres. I was always working to absorb new knowledge about my craft. Successful writers must be self-motivated learners. ALL writers experience rejection, which is simply an opportunity to reevaluate, rewrite, and resubmit (unless the writing stinks). But don’t stop writing!
  • i gave back out of gratitude. Many people poured into my life as a writer. But beyond that, God gave me the opportunity to become a full time, stay-at-home writer. The reality of that truth will always overwhelm me. No bit of knowledge or ability or skill that I possess is my own–it all belongs to God. It’s been my privilege to sow into the lives of other authors through conferences and one-on-one mentoring. I hope to continue to do this and encourage other authors to do the same and “pay it forward” by investing in the lives of future writers.

 We can trust God to direct us to success through the simple steps of life.

We don’t have to strive to achieve “greatness.” We don’t have to worry that we’ll somehow “miss” His will.

We only have to be faithful today, to listen for His voice today.

Then to walk in day-by-day obedience.

This is what true success looks like.

It’s that simple.


Six Habits to Stir Your Writing Creativity

WomanWritingID-100110284Like me, you may think you’re not a particularly creative person. But thinking of yourself as a “have not” in itself can stunt your creative efforts. Instead, think in terms of ways you can stir the creative juices we’re all born with.

Creativity is often a matter of work and discipline more than innate ability. 

Try developing some of the following habits to stir your writing creativity.

Habit #1. Reject the “Yeah, but…” mentality.

Allowing yourself to say “Yeah, but I’m really not …” is really an excuse for stepping away from the task and giving up. It’s refusing to offer an honest effort before you even begin. Instead, refuse to shut down, and change the phrase to “Yeah, and I’m going to …” These words confirm you commitment to the task and the value of your efforts.

Habit #2. Brainstorm with other writers. 

Ask for ideas from other writers. Get together over lunch or during a brief teleconference. Interaction with others can stimulate new ideas and bring fresh perspectives to your thinking.

A 2015 study by researchers at Rice University backs a similar concept. Researchers evaluated sales representatives at a pharmaceutical company in China. Those with wide networks of contacts devised more creative solutions to sales and marketing challenges.

Habit #3. Give yourself freedom. 

Don’t forget to take breaks and relax. Take time to read and make your spiritual life a priority. Your best research comes from listening and learning from your surroundings. Creativity allows you to say yes to new forms of expression and learning. Learn a new skill or pursue a talent. Finish an educational degree or take culinary classes. Give yourself freedom to be creative and express the spirit of wonder God created inside us.

Habit #4. Reward your efforts, even if you see them as failures.

Leslie Ehm, president at Toronto creativity training firm Combustion, defines creativity as “combining previously uncombined thoughts and ideas to create new thoughts and ideas.” We are a culture that has become overly focused on “right” answers. However,

Creativity is a process and not an outcome.

Therefore, we need to reward ourselves for our creative efforts, not the outcome of our efforts. We must dare to risk and learn to see the value in creativity itself.

Habit #5. Always be working on new writing projects.

Focus on projects that flow from your life and your passions. Keep five or six idea files going at a time, and build them as ideas occur or as you have inspiration to write. As you walk through life, look for relevant or ancillary information you believe could be useful and add those notes. Authors call this process “composting.” Allow this composting process to continue and for ideas to germinate and grow until you feel the time comes to begin actual organization and writing. You may also want to include perspectives from other authors, experts, or contributors.

Habit #6. Don’t quit.

Building your creative muscles won’t happen overnight. Ask another author to encourage you, or find a partner or two who can serve as partners in creativity.


What about YOU? What suggestions can you share for stimulating your creativity as a writer?

Love Letters from the Edge Featured on WZZM Take Five



Tomorrow, July 21, I will be talking about Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life on WZZM TV’s Take Five. The show airs from 9-10am ET.

Be sure to ask friends, educators, medical professionals, ministry workers, those who work in the justice system,and employers to listen in for valuable information on post-traumatic stress disorder and the toll it takes on those who have experienced trauma in its many forms.

Cedar Falls Christian Writer’s Workshop Taking Registrations

Photo Credit: Photo by anankkml. From

Photo Credit: Photo by anankkml. From

Writers of fiction and non-fiction will have the opportunity to hone their skills at a three-day workshop, June 18 – 20. Nationally known authors/speakers will lead the Iowa workshop.


Keynote speaker James Watkins, known for spreading hope through humor and writing, will provide practical strategies for communicating effectively with humor. Watkins will also offer insight into how to get your message out into the world, how to write a proposal with the editor in mind, and the ministry of writing. Watkins is the acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House and the author or co-author of 37 books, including the “Why Files,” which was awarded Christian Retailers Choice for best book series.


Keynote speaker Twila Belk, works with veteran author Cecil Murphy and has written or co-written six books. Her latest book is “Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose.” Belk interacts daily with the media, editors, agents, publishers, conference directors and other professionals. She will share her knowledge of the industry through sessions that cover obstacles of getting your message out, thinking beyond book writing, and how to create excitement for your book.


Shelly Beach, co-founder of the Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop, will present sessions on becoming a class-act speaker and building plotlines. Beach is an award-winning author of ten books. She is a national speaker with Advanced Writers and Speakers, as well as Daughters of Destiny prison ministry. She is also co-founder of PTSD Perspectives and has co-authored Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma and the Pain of Life with award-winning author Wanda Sanchez on post-traumatic stress disorder.


The workshop will also include sessions on technology, dialogue, poetry, self-editing, memoir, co-writing and research.

For a complete description of all 20 sessions and the daily schedules, visit


The workshop is sponsored by Cedar Falls Christian Writers and will be held at the Riverview Conference Center in Cedar Falls, IA. Early registration tuition is $235 through April 30. Registration from May1 until the workshop is $255. Tuition includes all sessions and meals, except for the Friday evening banquet, which is an additional $20. Tuition also includes a 20-minute conference with one of the presenters.


Paid manuscript critiques are available on a limited basis for $35. Please visit the website for details.


Details, registration forms and lodging accommodations are available at If you have questions, call Jean Vaux at 319-277-7444 or Sue Schuerman at 319-277-0295.


How have writer’s conferences helped you advance your writing goals?

Love Letters from the Edge Nominated for Selah Award

Photo Credit: AltonGansky.typepad

Photo Credit: AltonGansky.typepad

Co-author Wanda Sanchez and I were delighted to learn that Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life is one of three books nominated for a Selah Award in the General Nonfiction category.

The Selah Awards, which are awarded annually at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, are awarded to books within Christian publishing that are considered excellent within their genre.

The Selah Awards represent 14 genres, 29 publishing houses, and hundreds of authors. The nominees are listed below:

The 2015 Selah Awards Finalists
Listed in Alphabetical Order According to Book Title

Dare U 2 Open This Book by Carol McAdams Moore (Zonderkidz)
Just Sayin’ by Carol McAdams Moore (Zonderkidz)
Our Daily Bread for Kids by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley (Discovery House Publishers)

Children’s Picture Books
God is Always With You by Michelle Medlock Adams (Candy Cane Press)
If Jesus Walked Beside Me by Jill Roman Lord (Candy Cane Press)
What is Thanksgiving by Michelle Medlock Adams (Candy Cane Press)

Middle Grade Novels
Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper by Burton W. Cole (B&H Kids)
Johanna’s Journey by Cindy Murray Hamblen (Ambassador International)
Speak No Evil by Mary L. Hamilton (HopeSprings Books)
Fiction: Contemporary Romance
One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong (Revell)
Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey (Abingdon Press)
The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell)

Fiction: First Novel
Mercy’s Rain by Cindy K. Sproles (Kregel Publications)
Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas (Bethany House Publications)
The Covered Deep by Brandy Vallance (Worthy Publishing)

Fiction: Historical
Soul Painter by Cara Luecht (WhiteFire Publishing)
The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart (FaithWords)
What Follows After by Dan Walsh (Revell)

Fiction: Historical Romance
Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Love Comes Home by Ann H. Gabhart (Revell)
The Pelican Bride by Beth White (Revell)

Fiction: Mystery & Suspense (Third Place Tie)
A Cry From the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson)
Blind Trust by Sandra Orchard (Revell)
No One to Trust by Lynette Eason (Revell)
Nowhere to Turn by Lynette Eason (Revell)

Fiction: Novella
A Shenandoah Christmas by Lisa Belcastro (Washashore Publishing)
One Holy Night by Elizabeth Ludwig (Barbour Publishing)
The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels (Hearts Overcoming Press)

Fiction: Speculative
Once Beyond a Time by Ann Tatlock (Heritage Beacon Fiction)
Shenandoah Dreams by Lisa Belcastro (OakTara)
Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun (Revell)

Fiction: Women’s Contemporary
Just 18 Summers by Michelle Cox & Rene Gutteridge (Tyndale House Publishers)
The Revealing by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell)
The Shepherd’s Song by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers (Howard Books)

Nonfiction: Christian Living
For the Love of Horses by Amber H. Massey (Harvest House Publishers)
Not Who I Imagined by Margot Starbuck (Baker Books)
Praying Through Hard Times by Linda Evans Shepherd (Revell)

Nonfiction: General
Heart Wide Open by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (Waterbrook Press)
Love Letters From the Edge by Shelly Beach and Wanda Sanchez (Kregel Publications)
Renew Your Hope! By Pamela Christian (Protocol, Ltd.)

Nonfiction: Memoir
Bethany’s Calendar by Elaine Marie Cooper (CrossRiver Media)
Dead 13 Times by Cam Tribolet (Whitaker House)
Out of the Dust by Avis Goodhart with Marti Pieper (Aneko Press)

Judging will take place Wednesday, May 20th.

Our sincere thanks to the Selah Award contest organizers and sponsors for the honor of this nomination. It’s our desire that the hopeless find hope through Love Letters from the Edge. We wrote this book to help those who’ve been wounded and broken by life to hear God’s words of love poured out specifically for them.

Writing Tips: It’s Never Too Late

Meet Captain James Henry, a retired Connecticut lobsterman who, at the age of 98, just published his first book, In A Fisherman’s Language.

FishermanBookCoverMore inspiring: Mr. Henry did not learn to read until just a few years ago.

Yep, that’s right.

When his granddaughter contacted local Literacy Volunteers, they connected Mr. Henry with Mark Hogan, a retired English teacher.

That connection meant that the life of Mr. Henry would never again be the same. He learned to read and write – and the end result is his autobiography.

Word of the book and Mr. Henry’s personal story made the local news then reached
USA Today.

Now, Mr. Henry is getting speaking requests from groups around the country.

“It’s never too late to learn,” Mr. Henry told USA Today.

And it’s never too late to write – or to change your life.

Start today.

Where Were You, God?

Photo Credit: by Evgeni Dinev. FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Photo Credit: by Evgeni Dinev. FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

When Wanda and I thought about the questions we wanted to address in Love Letters from the Edge, we knew “Where were you, God?” would be one of the first.

We’ve all asked God tough questions–whether we’ve spoken them out loud or admitted them.

Where were you when I was being raped?

Where were you when my child died in my arms and I cried out for mercy?


Where were you when my loving parent was dying a slow, agonizing, horrific death?

Where were you when I prayed for the torture to stop?

With one wave of your finger you parted the Red Sea for the Children of Israel, God, but you didn’t come for me or my loved one.

Have you or someone you love ever felt that way?

If there’s something I’ve learned about life, trauma, and living in a world of suffering, it’s that this world doesn’t make sense to us. It never will. We expend our energy searching for answers to the Whys of life–the question Phillip Yancey has so aptly described as “the question that never goes away.”

We plead for answers from God, but often our questions are met with silence.

In the end, we are left with the only question that really matters: will we trust God not only for who he says he is, but for what his love proves him to be?

God does not override humanity’s sinful actions and free will. Rescue is not always about removing us from the circumstances we wish to escape. Rescue is also about discovering who God is, experiencing his presence, and trusting his purposes.

Where were you, God, when I was being raped?

I was weeping for you, my child.

I was holding you.

I was bearing you up and breathing life into you when you wanted to give up.

I was weaving purpose into intended ruination.

I was reclaiming Satan’s intended damnation for my glory and for your good, working in countless ways you cannot see.

In the deepest darkness, I stake my life on the goodness of God.

No matter what I see. No matter what I feel. No matter what the world tells me. All other ground is sinking sand.

What about you? Have you asked God Why? Share your experience with us.



Healing PTSD through Writing

Photo Credit: Photo by anankkml. From

Photo Credit: Photo by anankkml. From

On June 1st, my friend Wanda Sanchez and I launched our first co-written book together, Love Letters from the Edge. We wrote this book as two women who’ve experienced abuse and trauma, as well as undergoing successful trauma treatment. Our goal is to provide encouragement and resources for women who have suffered from the devastating effects of wounding life experiences.

One of the most life-changing elements of our trauma therapy was engaging in writing that helped us bring significance and resolution to our traumatic experiences.

In fact, we found writing to be so important to our healing that we incorporated focused writing activities into Love Letters from the Edge. Many of those activities include incorporating Scripture passages as the reader is encouraged to confront negative patterns of thinking with the truth of God. Many of the lies women struggle with (men as well) find their roots in painful and traumatic experiences.

Jan Fishler, author, speaker, writing coach, and creator/presenter of writing workshops, tells about the role that writing played in her recovery from trauma.

Fishler states, “I’d repeated my adoption story many times without the benefit of healing the abandonment issues that were the foundation of my trauma. It wasn’t the act of putting pen to paper either (actually spending hours at the computer), recalling memories as they came up, and turning them into scenes. The real healing didn’t begin until my older, wiser self began to make sense of my situation, filling the gaps between scenes with a perspective that comes only from wisdom and age. In my case, this happened quite by accident.”

One of the most healing aspects of therapeutic writing is the process of transformation and resolution that comes when incomplete, unprocessed, and unresolved traumatic experiences are given new significance by a wiser self that speaks a new ending to an old story.

For the Christian, that healing comes as we gain God’s perspective of ourself and begin to live in that reality.

So where can you begin?

Wherever you may be on your journey through trauma, begin by journaling your experience. Take on the role of a reporter and get down the facts. The goal is not to re-experience the event, but to observe it from a distance. The goal is to record, not to judge or evaluate.

When you and your therapist feel you’re ready, take your writing to a deeper level. Look for significance. How did the experience leave you “stuck”? What effect did it have on you? Allow the voices of maturity, perspective, and truth within you to speak to these broken places. The goal is to show compassion,affirmation, understanding, and to unburden these broken parts of yourself through written dialogue.

As your story is transferred to the written page and then back through your eyes and into your mind, your story is reprocessed by both the right and left hemispheres, helping your brain to heal and your trauma experience to be “rewired” with a beginning, middle and end. This same process is often true when trauma survivors create art and music.

Writing is accessible to almost anyone. For more information about writing as a path to healing, visit James Pennebaker’s website.

What about you? Have you incorporated writing in your trauma therapy? Share your story with us.

John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”