A new chapter

St. Stephen’s parishioner writes book of meditations

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

“It’s been a long road and I’m very happy,” said Anne Costa, parishioner at St. Stephen’s in Phoenix. She was referring to the anticipated release of the book she wrote, entitled Refresh Me, Lord! Meditations to Renew a Woman’s Spirit. It was published through Word Among Us Press, a  prominent Catholic publisher, and was released June 8.

Costa has been writing stories and poems since first grade and held fast to the dream of becoming a published author. But she didn’t realize that it would take almost 40 years to do it.

When not writing, Costa is the director of development for AURORA of Central New York Inc., a non-profit organization that provides rehabilitative services to people with hearing or vision loss. She is a dynamic motivational speaker and is involved in pro-life work through Friends for Life, Inc. Costa also hosted the radio show, “A Servant’s Heart,” which aired on a local Christian station.

Costa is the founder of Veronica Ministries, an apostolate that encourages, affirms and inspires others in their faith walk.

Costa lives in Baldwinsville with her husband and daughter. Costa was inspired to write the book 12 years ago, when her daughter, Mary Grace, was born. “The birth of my daughter changed my life,” said Costa. “The awesome mystery of the love that comes out of you for a child made my writing have purpose.”

Costa said Refresh Me, Lord! is an inspirational volume that is meant to encourage and affirm women’s lives. It speaks to their spirits and provides a source of support and renewal as they strive to live lives of faith and joy. Costa helps women to see beyond the daily clutter of their lives to their real purpose — fulfilling the calling God has given to women. While acknowledging the struggles and temptations that women face, Costa gives them hope that they can be renewed in Christ and become people who bring many blessings to others. “It’s my gift to women,” said Costa. “It’s a way to give back and a way to help them understand how God is walking with them.”

The book contains 100 meditations. Each meditation features an opening Scripture verse, a concise hope-filled meditation, a closing prayer and a “Just for Today” action step to be taken which reinforces what has been read.

Since Costa began writing the book, the manuscript has survived two computer crashes, a flooded basement and has been rejected by three publishers. During those years, Costa also survived a significant health complication, the tragic death of her best friend to suicide and the illness and recent death of her father. Costa dedicated the book to  her father.

“I almost gave up the idea of writing a book,” said Costa. But, as a last ditch effort, she submitted the unsolicited manuscript to Word Among Us Press in 2005. Costa didn’t hear anything from them for over a year. “I almost forgot I had sent it,” remarked Costa. Then Costa received a letter in January 2006 from the editor at the publishing company apologizing for the delayed response. Apparently the manuscript had been buried and was nearly tossed out before being noticed. Upon reading it, the editor was interested in seeing more pages of the manuscript. “After hearing from the editor I was excited and I panicked a little because I didn’t know if I  would be able to find the rest of the manuscript,” said Costa.

After sending the requested pages in February, Costa landed in the hospital with a life-threatening illness. “On the day that I returned home from the hospital, the editor called to say that they wanted to publish my book!” said Costa. “I had just been through the worst of times, only to experience the joy of my dream coming true.”

Costa was then contacted by the publisher saying that they were sending part of the manuscript to various Catholic booksellers throughout the U.S.

By April, Word Among Us Press made the decision to publish Refresh Me, Lord! “I was thrilled and it felt surreal,” said Costa. “They gave me an advance and told me, ‘This is how we want you to write it.’ It became their property — you have to be totally flexible. They gave me a deadline of April 2007.”

Costa’s journey is a reflection of what it means to live by faith and not by sight while on the way to making one’s personal dream a reality.

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