Dancing as a ballerina is the dream of most every little girl from the moment she takes her first class at the neighborhood rec center or enrolls at the local dance studio. Even if she goes on to pursue medicine, business, music or a host of other interests, as most do, she carries inside her the heart of a dancer.
Sarah Beth Marr understands this well.
Marr began dancing professionally just after she graduated from Lake Highlands High in 1998. She was Sarah Jenkins when she joined Ballet Austin, and when she wasn’t in the dance studio, she was with her high school sweetheart, Brian Marr, who was in Austin to study at the University of Texas.
Sarah Beth, the daughter of Donna and Steve Jenkins, had grown up in the church and quickly began looking for a book of daily devotionals aimed at dancers. There are bible studies and spiritual guides for most every other interest and vocation, she says, but nothing was quite right.
One day, she determined, she would write her own.
This February 6th, Sarah Beth’s first book, Dreaming With God: A Bold Call to Step Out and Follow God’s Lead, hits bookstores nationwide. The first draft of her second book went to publishers last week.
Dreaming With God isn’t exactly the book she first envisioned. Sarah Beth married Brian and completed her 17-year dance career, and she now has 3 children, Camp, Cooper and Colt. Her target audience includes dancers and the metaphor of dance shows up in her prose and on her beautiful cover (that’s Sarah Beth in the cover’s photograph), but she also writes for all women who want to know God’s plan for their life.
“The more I got into it, the book became more about encouraging and inspiring women to continue dreaming throughout all stages of their lives,” she says. “God wants us to dream, and the world says, ‘Follow your dreams.’ The key, I’ve discovered, is He wants to lead us. God wants to lead you into the dream He has for you.”
She admits it wasn’t easy.
“I never thought I could write a book,” says Sarah Beth. “I went from high school straight to dancing – I didn’t go to college. That was a strike against me. I thought, ‘They’ll tell me I can’t.’”
Sarah Beth began by journaling and reading books by other authors.
“So many books helped me in my own walk with Jesus, and a light bulb would go off. These authors were mentors to help me see scripture in a different way or live differently. I experienced life change from non-fiction Christian books. I ate them up.”
Once the seed of authorship was planted, she needed to learn the game.
“I literally walked up to writers I saw as speakers and said, ‘Hi, I’d like to be an author, where do I start?’” She sought out resources such as conferences, retreats and online courses to get started. She met with publishers and agents, she wrote proposals and outlines, and she spent lots of time reading the bible.
“Scripture for me is like music when I was dancing. Without it, I don’t have anything to say.”
Then there was the editing.
“The eyes of the editors are a blessing – I’ll miss something or be too repetitive. I think I was prepared from my dancing years – we’d have corrections all the time – but some of those words felt like my babies. I didn’t want to let them go. I admit I cried a few times, but my editor helped me see that cutting the fluff will make it a better book.”
Now, all she can do is wait.
“Brian and I have been practically stalking the mailman, waiting for the books to arrive. We’re so anxious to hold it. It’s like holding a baby. It’s been a long journey.”
In addition to her upcoming second book, Sarah Beth has a blog with devotionals and has planned speaking engagements to promote Dreaming With God. Other future possibles include podcasts, bible studies, planners – and more books.
You can follow Sarah Beth Marr on Facebook and Instagram. Her book can be pre-ordered on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Lifeway via her website, and Logos Bookstore at Snider Plaza will sell it beginning Feb. 6th. Watch for an announcement about a book signing at Barnes & Noble the week of the launch.