ASHLAND - Patricia Long never imagined she would write a book. When she began working on what would become "Great to Grace," she didn't think it was one.
Now that her book is finished, Long is convinced she didn't write it at all. The real author, Long believes, is God.
“I didn’t write it. I typed it," Long said. "It was His whispers, so any errors are mine, but the book is His.”
That's why Long always writes the words "His whispers" before signing her name to copies of the book.
An Ashland resident for 45 years, Long spent more than 20 years working in the healthcare field in hospice and home health care in Ashland and Mansfield as well as at Brethren Care Village.
Long's journey with "Great to Grace" began in March 2018, when a healthcare consultant for whom she used to work asked her to write the script for a training video.
The consultant, David Noggle, was repeatedly asked by clients to explain how he created such successful businesses.
As Long explains it, Noggle had borrowed $25,000 to start his first business, Signature Health Services. Eight years later, he sold the business for $8 million, according to Long.
Both Long and Noggle believed the owner's faith in God was the key to the Signature's success, so the purpose of training video was to show leaders how to bring Christ into the workplace.
“No company has to be Christian. Few companies claim to be Christian. Most are afraid to say they are Christian, but you can legally do it as long as you don’t push it on someone," Long said.
When Long showed Noggle the draft of what she thought would be the training video, Noggle said, "That's not a video, that's a book." Noggle also told Long he believed the book was not just for leaders but for everyone.
Shortly after Noggle asked her to write the book, Long's health took a turn for the worse. She had long struggled with a slew of chronic illnesses including a brittle bone disease and a connective tissue disease and had been disabled since 2011. This time, Long was placed on a palliative care plan.
On May 15, 2018, Long emailed Noggle to tell him the horrible news. She didn't think she would live to see the book published.
The next three months were agonizing as Long struggled to cope with her pain and to heal from the latest of her many injuries. But out of that pain, something beautiful emerged.
"During those three months, I sat up night and day, and 'Great to Grace' was whispered," Long said. "I wrote and typed at the computer day and night because I couldn't sleep. At the end of that three months, it was complete."
The book ended up as a series of short stories interspersed with nature photos and Bible verses.
"It's stories about what God has done in the workplace because we listen and depended on God’s grace as we served others," Long said.
In September 2018, Long sent the manuscript of her book to Bookmasters to be published. She picked up the first printed copies May 14, 2019-- a year to the day she went on palliative care.
Holding the published book in her hands for the first time was emotional, Long recalls. It was an experience she never thought she would live to have.
One day, Long hopes to publish a memoir based on the journals she has kept over the past eight years. She plans to title that book, "Extravagant Grace: Living Fully While Dying Through the Extraordinary Peace of Jesus Christ."
For now, Long is focusing her efforts on promoting her first book-- not for fame or money, but out of a desire to help others.
“It’s all about getting this book into the hands of others and telling them how if we show God’s grace, what a different world it could be,"
A majority of the proceeds from the book will go to a new non-profit organization called Great to Grace, which Long said will be used to help people in need in Ashland and Mansfield.
The first book signing event for "Great to Grace" will be held 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. July 25 at Brethren Care Village in Ashland. Refreshments will be provided. Those who purchase a book for $20 will receive a bookmark and a cross pins. Tote bags will be available for anyone who purchases two or more books.
The books will also be available for purchase at sites in Ashland as well as at Haring Jewelers in Mansfield.