SALT LAKE CITY — Heidi Tucker, an Arizona mom whose children and grandchildren all live in Utah, has made countless trips from Phoenix to Salt Lake City. But she still clearly remembers one experience she had while en route to Utah four years ago: a realistic dream in which she was shown a book.
“I remember thumbing through the pages,” Tucker said. “I remember looking back at the chapter headings, and I knew that it was a book about trials and about hope, and that I had written it.”
When Tucker woke up, she recalls having two thoughts. The first was that the dream was incredibly real. The second? “There’s no way I could ever write that.”
Four years later, Tucker hasn’t just written one book — she’s risen from adversity to self-publish two award-winning books about hope and to travel the West as an inspirational speaker.
Making a dream come true
2014 was not an easy year for Tucker, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She had just turned 50. Her youngest child left for college and she officially became an empty nester. She was finishing up her fourth year of teaching an early morning seminary class to high school students, and felt exhausted from years of early mornings and daily lessons. On top of that, her son had returned early from an LDS mission, a difficult trial for both of them.
“I’m in this position where I’m physically and emotionally and spiritually beat up,” Tucker said of the time period.
For months, Tucker prayed and fasted every single day to find her purpose and path in life. It seemed like the prayer went unanswered, until she had the dream that eventually led her to write her first book, “Finding Hope in the Journey.”
Even then, Tucker didn’t recognize the dream as an answer to her prayers. Initially, she fought the idea of writing a book. Only after Tucker faced rejection after rejection from other job opportunities did she realize God was steering her to write a book.
“I just thought, ‘This is not me. I don’t know why anything that I have to say would matter to anybody else,’” said Tucker, who graduated from Arizona State University with a business degree. “Fortunately, Heavenly Father was really, really patient with me, and he continued to encourage me, and I just received promptings daily. I couldn’t get away from it.”
According to Tucker, “Finding Hope in the Journey” was published in direct response to her dream. The book teaches through Tucker’s personal experiences, including her most difficult trials, but focuses on how she was able to feel hope and recognize God’s hand.
“With so much distraction and commotion and darkness in the world, there are still so many glimmers of hope out there that we’re missing in our own lives,” Tucker said. “I’ve learned to recognize those in my own life, and the fact that I can talk about that and tell those in the way that I can, somehow, it resonates with people.”
Aubreigh Parks Photography
“Finding Hope in the Journey” resonated with readers all around the world, including a panel of judges for Illumination Book Awards, which annually recognizes exemplary Christian books.
Tucker submitted her book to the contest because she felt God prompted her to do so, not expecting to hear anything back and even forgetting she submitted it in the first place.
“I was so honored to be considered and to be recognized in the Christian world,” Tucker said.
The success of “Finding Hope in the Journey” didn’t come easy. Even though Tucker felt that God put her on the path to write a book, she faced closed door after closed door. It took Tucker only four months to write the book, but publishing it was a different story.
“It can be really tricky when you feel like you’re on the path to doing something that you’re supposed to be doing, then you try to get into something, and you hear ‘no,’” Tucker said. “That’s really hard. You’ve got to knock on that door over and over and over again.”
Tucker felt she needed to publish her book for people to read besides her family, but it was difficult to find a publisher. Eventually, after receiving multiple rejection letters (which are now framed in her office), Tucker decided to self-publish. She hired a copy editor and put her own team together.
“I didn’t know anything about the publishing world. Not anything,” Tucker said. “I had to find all these people that I could hire to do this to put this book out, and I was feeling like, ‘What am I doing?’”
When it finally came time for the book to be printed, Tucker was not excited. More than anything, she was terrified at the prospect of sharing her personal journal with the world. However, she found comfort in trusting God.
“I had to go back to my trust with Heavenly Father and say, ‘I’m trusting that this is going to be OK,’” Tucker said.
Once “Finding Hope in the Journey” was complete, the publishing companies that once rejected the book openly welcomed it to their shelves.
How Tucker’s next book ‘found her’
Fast forward to January 2016. “Finding Hope in the Journey” was finally published and widely available. Tucker was busy marketing the book and getting caught up after traveling for the holidays when one Sunday, a woman named Servie from Zimbabwe approached Tucker at church. She told Tucker she had a question for her, and asked if she could come to her home that Tuesday at 10 am.
Tucker made the 30-minute drive to Servie’s home. After small talk about the weather, Servie asked Tucker to write a book about her life. According to Tucker, Servie felt she needed to write down her life story, but never received formal education to write. After praying and fasting, Servie felt that God told her to ask Tucker to write the book.
“My head is saying, ‘Don’t you go there,’ but my heart is screaming ‘Yes,’” Tucker said about the experience. “Finally, I looked at her and I said, ‘Servie, if you’re telling me that God has asked you to ask me to write this book, the answer is yes.’”
Austin Tucker Media
Over the next year, Tucker spent hours recording conversations with Servie and transcribing them herself. She learned Servie led an unimaginably difficult life, which included moving to the U.S. following her husband’s death so she could work and provide for her children in Zimbabwe.
The result was a book called “Servie’s Song,” which details Servie’s most painful trials, but ultimately teaches a lesson of hope. It tells the story of Servie’s conversion to the LDS Church and how the gospel of Jesus Christ helped her find hope in her trials.
“I don’t want this to be a story of tragedy; I want this to be a story of hope and how she’s overcome,” Tucker said to herself as she began to write the book. “I want it to be triumphant, that we see her go to the bottom of the ditch and pull herself out.”
“Servie’s Song” was awarded the Illumination Award in 2018. Now, Tucker focuses on marketing “Servie’s Song” and travels around the West speaking to conferences, book clubs and firesides about the lessons she learned from writing the book.
Life is a hike
In her books, Tucker, an ardent hiker, often compares life to a hike. According to Tucker, relaxed hikes with wildflowers are the easy, smooth-sailing periods of our lives. Moderate hikes, perhaps when a rock is stuck in our shoe, are the times we struggle. And the steep, impossible hikes are when nothing is going right and it’s difficult to see the end.
She said the journey of becoming an author and speaker has been a combination of all three “hikes.”
Austin Tucker Media
“It’s glorious in the blessings that I have received back. It’s moderately hard in the doubts and the endurance that I need to find to continue to pound up that steep trail,” Tucker said. “But it’s the really difficult hikes. Those have been the shut doors. That’s been the courage that it took to put myself out there and be so personal in my books.”
Despite the difficulties, Tucker said, she’d do it all again in a heartbeat. She plans to begin working on her third book this summer. She isn’t ready to talk about the details yet, but did mention that hope will always be a theme in her books.
“I’m not ready to stop writing,” Tucker said. “As long as I can feel that there’s more that needs to come out, I won’t stop.”