I never thought I would write a book. In fact, I never thought of myself as a writer, but apparently I was writing stories at a young age. In fifth grade, I wrote a story about my teacher and called her “Mrs. Vegeburger.” I don’t remember what the tale was about but apparently it wasn’t very flattering, which I found out during a visit to the principal’s office. (I turns out that she wasn’t my pal after all.)
Then in high school, I took freshman (college) English. I don’t recall much, if anything from the class except what the teacher looked like—which I won’t share here on the off chance that she might read this. Apparently, I didn’t do very well in the class, which I learned after my mother opened my report card.
Several years later, I was invited to my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding which involved a three-day road trip to a flat country, also known as Nebraska. During the journey, I observed how my boyfriend’s father treated his wife. He was petty, nasty and abusive to her, which is putting it mildly. Meanwhile from the back seat, I recorded everything in my brand new journal. Eventually, I learned that he had a sneaky little habit of reading things not intended for his eyes, which became evident after he read my journalistic expose of his un-Jesus-y behavior.
Needless to say, these events completely crippled my budding writing career, which eventually made an unlikely comeback during my tortuous years, also known as therapy. I discovered that journaling was a powerful way to unravel the knots of my childhood and every once in a while a story tenuously emerged. I cautiously shared these newborn stories with a teeny tiny audience, also known as friends, who encouraged my writing by telling me who William Zinsser was and what to do with a thesaurus. The result was more stories and here I am with a book.
Initially I thought the primary audience of these stories would be my children but as I reflected more, I realized that these stories were worth sharing with more people than just my children. Becoming His Beloved is the account of how Jesus found one abandoned, lonely girl and invited her into His freedom. It is my gospel.
During the publication process, I titled the book Lilies of the Valley after one of the stories. However, my good friend, Lou Ann, challenged me to reconsider the title alleging that Lilies of the Valley sounded like an old woman. Although my children think I am an old, I don’t think of myself that way and I certainly didn’t want to portray a red-hat-purple-dress image. So I came up with another title. However, another dear friend said that the title sounded like I had a sex change operation. (For the sake of partial disclosure, her name is Leslie.) Anyway, I certainly didn’t want to portray an image suggesting that a plastic surgeon was tinkering with my anatomy so I had to come up with another title, and quickly.
So what was I to do? One day as I was driving, I prayed one of those Anne Lamott prayers: “God, help!” And soon the title came to me: Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection. (I want to point out that this immediate answer to prayer is a rare event for me. There are plenty of times I have wanted heaven to open up and it hasn’t, or maybe I just wasn’t listening.)
So Lilies of the Valley was transformed into Becoming His Beloved, just like that.
As I moved to cover design, Lou Ann suggested an idea for the layout—surround the word ‘beloved’ with the lies of the enemy, words like unwanted, rejected, and abandoned, words that I am all too familiar with. Then my son-in-law, Jared, said that his wife, my daughter, could do the lettering. And so she did.
This brings me to the subject of names. When Isaac and Rebekah named Jacob I don’t think they said, “Lets name him ‘usurper.’” Like a lot of us, they probably said “We like the name Yacob. Lets name him Yacob.” At least it was this way with our family. When Larry and I named our children, we choose their names because we liked them. I don’t remember thinking about the meaning of their names.
After the book was finished and I had a good cry upon its delivery, I had a small signing at my church. A woman named Aimee bought a book and wanted it signed. And then she said something that you need to sit down for. (Go ahead and sit. I’ll wait. ) She said, “Aimee means beloved.” Suddenly I knew that there was something profound, even heavenly, going on. My daughter, Amy, whose name means 'beloved' did the lettering of the word ‘beloved’ for the cover of my book titled Becoming His Beloved. It sounds like God has been up to something for quite a while.
So then I reflected about our other children’s names. Our second child’s name is Katherine, which means ‘pure’ and our third child’s name is William Matthew, means ‘strong protector’ and ‘gift of God.’
As if this wasn’t enough to convince me of God’s hand in my life, I remembered that after our second child was born, I had two very early miscarriages. After failing to grieve the first loss, my body rebelled and I developed pneumonia on the baby’s due date. After the second miscarriage, I grieved properly, wrote a letter to ‘her’ and gave ‘her’ a name: Hannah Grace. I have no idea why I named her this; I guess I just liked the name. After the recent revelation about ‘beloved,’ I did some research and it turns out that Hannah means Grace. Hannah Grace means Grace Grace. A double portion of grace. (Pass the Kleenex, please.)
So this is who our children are: Beloved, Pure, Strong Protector, Gift of God and Grace. Even though we thought we were naming our children, I think it was God who was naming our children all along. And He has been telling me who I am and who they are every time I said their names.
Paul Tournier sums up my journey quite nicely so I quoted him in the introduction of Becoming His beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection:
GENEVA CHINNOCK is a writer and author of Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection. Geneva has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master in Business Administration. In her spare time, Geneva loves reading, eating bacon and attending live theater. She lives in Southern California with her husband and blogs about matters of faith at TreasuredbyGod.com.