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Interview: Amber Neben, Author of ‘When Shmack Happens’

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Amber Neben photoAmber Neben is a decorated international road cyclist, a motivational speaker and coach. She is the author of When SHMACK Happens, a Christian inspirational sports autobiography that chronicles her disappointments and failures, along with her amazing comebacks and victories. When SHMACK Happens will equip you and encourage you when you face life’s ups and downs.

Visit Amber online at http://amberneben.com/.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

On the surface, I am a 2008 and 2012 USA Olympian in the sport of Cycling. I’m a world champion twice, a Pan American champion twice, and a National Champion twice. I’ve won races in 11 different countries. Eons ago, I was smart enough to earn a BS in Biology from the University of Nebraska and an MS from the Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics at UC Irvine. Underneath it all, I am simply a child of God. I’m introverted, maybe a little awkward at times, and very vanilla with red hair! I’m ‘just’ Amber. When I’m not cycling or writing, I am coaching, running my nonprofit, The Dare To Be Project, and hanging out with my husband of almost 17 years.

What made you first decide to become a writer?

I enjoy writing. I often feel like there is a disconnect between my brain and my mouth, but when I write, I can bypass this. Words pour more clearly onto paper, and I can do a much better job of expressing or explaining myself. Then, over the years, I’ve had many people encourage me to write a book about my life. However, until last year, the timing was never right.

Can you tell us about your latest book: When SHMACK Happens?

At first glance, When SHMACK Happens is my story about perseverance, overcoming adversity, and the journey of achieving (and not quite) achieving big goals. However, the bigger theme of the book is to encourage and share the tools the reader can use in their own lives to overcome their own challenges. Adversity, or SHMACK, is universal to all of us. It is not if but when. And although the type and the intensity is unique, the tools we can use to overcome are the same. I’ve used my life as a context to relate these in a tangible way… while also taking the reader on a ride where they will laugh, cry, and cheer. I know my challenges are really minimal compared to many, but this God I know wants to act in everyone’s lives as much as He has in mine. I hope to point people back to Him – to His love, His peace, and His strength. In addition, hopefully I can open eyes and hearts to the idea that success comes with lots of hard work and perseverance. Achieving a goal is going to be hard. Adversity, failure, and redirection are all part of the process. We need to remember that we are refined in the fires of life and rarely does growth come without struggle or stress.

What inspired you to write it?

This crash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z_6qDX_Yh8.  In the immediate aftermath of my infamous Tour of California crash, I had an amazing peace and stillness about me. Although my world had been rocked, really rocked, and I was experiencing one of the most painful physical challenges ever, I had a very clear mind. I could hear God pounding on my heart to “write the story that I (the Lord) have written into your life.” After weeks of prayer, I realized that I needed to share how God had gotten me through everything, how timeless His word really was and is, and how incredible His peace and strength can be in the midst of our challenges.

What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?

If we can stand on the ROCK (Jesus) in the midst of our storms, not only will we survive, but God will be able to do great things in us and through us. When Shmack Happens cover

How is your book different from others on the market?

It’s different because I actually think it crosses genres and is something young and old, male and female, athletes or not would enjoy reading.

My goal is for the reader to see what God can do more than to see what I’ve done. I’ve tried to weave the scripture that has carried me through life into the story, so that it can be easily reapplied to their own lives. I’ve also paralleled each part of my journey with a bible character to help show how timeless God’s word is while again demonstrating another way to apply it. Finally, I wanted to juxtapose the pursuit of becoming a champion in sport (which could easily be a metaphor for whatever the reader’s individual pursuit in life is) with what God was doing in me as He worked (and is still working) through my SHMACKS to make me a spiritual champion. Of course, it is a process that won’t be completed until I receive the crown of life, but it is still possible to share and encourage by talking about what has happened to date! I think the combination of my experiences and the approach I took makes it very unique.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

When SHMACK Happens is available on Amazon USA or Europe and at www.whenshmackhappens.com.

What is up next for you?

Right now, I am healing from a sacrum fracture while praying about the next steps in my cycling career.

I’m enjoying the opportunities to speak and share my story as they come.

I’m coaching, and I’m working on a new hand cycle vision for my nonprofit, The Dare To Be Project.

Is there anything you would like to add?

There are no ‘justs’ in God’s hands. Nobody is too small, too weak, too young…or too anything in God’s hands. It’s not about us or our job titles. It’s about what can happen when we make ourselves available and trust Him in the midst of our storms. Christ’s power is always perfected in our weakness, and He wants to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Follow or contact me:
Twitter: @amberneben
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/amber.neben.9

 

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