Ask and Ye Shall Receive...Pickles! : Talking with Author, Bethany Marshall
Bethany Marshall believes that coffee and prayer are the two things that you can’t start the day without. Her faith never fails and when she had the idea of writing a children’s book, she put her faith to work and waited for the right opportunity to write her first book, titled Pickles & Prayer. After moving from Virginia with her husband, director of the Refuge Youth Network, Micah Marshall, Bethany knew that Blair County was a unique place for them to plant their roots. And, of course, to make pickles!
Originally from out of state, Marshall talks about how she knew Central Pennsylvania was right for her. “Getting more involved with the community and the church community, it felt as if God was planting so many wonderful people in our life. Let me tell you, we are in love with Blair County. We are in love with Altoona. There is nowhere else we can picture ourselves living right now.” Her heart for the city shows in the involvement she has with the Refuge Youth Network and other programs that involve children of all ages.
Her book, Pickles & Prayer, is believed to be a personal revelation that she had one day. “I always wanted to write a book. For this first initial one, I didn’t know what kind of book I wanted to write.” While searching for the answer to her question, she turned to God to help guide her in the right direction. “I chewed on the idea for a while and then I said, ‘Lord, what book would you like me to write first?’ And then one morning I was talking with my mother-in-law. She always gets me pickles when I visit because I love pickles,” she says with a laugh. “So, we were eating pickles and talking about prayer. And then it dawned on me. ‘I’m going to write a children’s book about pickles and prayer!’”
For the book itself, she decided to collaborate with local artist and coffee shop owner, Sarah Vogel. “She was actually one of the first people we met when we moved here,” Marshall says. “Our friendship goes way back. Through the years, I’ve always admired her talent and her ability to think outside of the box. With the style of book I was going for, I couldn’t imagine anyone else working with me on this. It was as if God was planning this way back when we first met.” After her story was written, Marshall reached out to Vogel with her plan to make the book come to life. “I called her three days after it was written, told her that no one really had any idea this was happening and that I needed an illustrator. She said that she had always wanted to illustrate a book and that she was so excited about the opportunity.” After three or four meetups, they had the concept of the book planned and it was everything Marshall had wanted. “She came up with the concept of the process of the cucumber plant and the whole thing came together beautifully. It was everything that I wanted it to be. To have worked with her and have this become something real, I was so tickled by the whole thing.”
When asked about other things she’s passionate about, Marshall was quick to name her top three! “Jesus, that’s definitely number one. I don’t know how people are doing it without him. Prayer, obviously. I don’t start my day without it. That and a good cup of French roast coffee. And thirdly, definitely people. I love seeing the potential in people and seeing people go and thrive. Watching their confidence rise, that’s so fulfilling.” She goes on to talk about her work in education. “I work with kids in the mental health field in the school districts. I mainly focused on cognitive behavior and trauma therapy. Seeing them thrive and have confidence, that feeling is indescribable." Her love of people has continued to grow to new heights over time. "Overall, I am passionate about helping those to see the potential in themselves. Them seeing that is the best feeling in the world.”
Faith has always had a stronger presence in Bethany Marshall’s life. From meeting people in a new town to depending on prayer to help with a project she’s always had, it is safe to say that a little bit of faith and Jesus goes a long way. If you want to read Pickles & Prayer, copies of the book are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at the Clay Cup in Downtown Altoona.
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