Where did I get the inspiration to write When SHMACK Happens? I hit the wall, and I hit it HARD!! My life, my goals, and my next steps were redirected in a span of a few seconds. Prior to impact, I was on target to win that huge race at The Tour of California, and I was plotting ahead to more cycling goals, maybe even the 2016 Olympic Games. After the impact, I laid on the pavement while my body screamed at me because it hurt… SEVERELY. Blood poured out of my nose and other parts of me. I was scared and messed up. But I was awake, and I could move.
In the midst of the pain and fear that filled me on the side of the road and then in the ambulance, I clung to Jesus. I didn’t understand why or what had just happened. I didn’t want to be headed to a trauma center, and I definitely didn’t want to have my dreams cut short by another obstacle. But I clung. And He filled me with His strength.
Honestly, it was a miracle to walk away, and a miracle how fast I recovered. But even more incredible was that in the aftermath of the crash, I had a peace and a stillness of spirit that was beyond me. I was very limited to what I could do. Simply moving was difficult for a few weeks. However, in spite of the physical trauma I was dealing with, my mind was incredibly clear and crisp, and my heart was not anxious.
I began to think about writing my story, and then God began to pound on my heart “write the story that I have written into your life.” I had always wanted to write a book, but I had never felt the inspiration to do it until the initial days after the crash. Although there was a definite tug on my heart to write, I still continued to doubt that I could do it. I also wasn’t completely convinced I was hearing God accurately, and I only wanted to embark on the journey with His help. So for two weeks, I prayed often about the idea.
Finally, or desperately, after two weeks of talking to God about everything, I prayed a Gideon like prayer at 5AM. I know it was 5AM, because I remember checking my phone before getting up to use the bathroom. My prayer when I laid back down was, “God, if I am hearing you correctly, have Jenna Sampson email me.” Jenna had written some articles about me for Sports Spectrum, and she would occasionally check on me. She had promised almost 7 years prior that she would help me write if I ever wanted to. I hadn’t heard from her in almost a year, but when I got out of bed that same morning, I had an email from Jenna arriving at 5:16AM. Confirmed. I needed to write.
And yes, I needed to write! There was no way a ghost writer or another author could truly understand my journey or share those intimate lessons I had learned as I had been walking, struggling, or standing firm in Christ through all the storms. So I met with Jenna, who agreed to act as my editor, I started praying for words and eloquence, and I embarked on writing WHEN SHMACK HAPPENS.
Link to crash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z_6qDX_Yh8
Amber Neben is a decorated international road cyclist with victories in 11 countries and multiple UCI Category 1 stage race wins. She is a 2x Olympian, 2x World Champion, 2x Pan American Champion and 2x National Champion. She holds a B.S. from The University of Nebraska and an M.S. from UC Irvine. Amber and her husband, Jason, reside in Lake Forest, CA. For information on speaking engagements or coaching visit amberneben.com.