Excerpt from Finding Shirley: This is my first meeting with Jim since agreeing to do this book. I am a little wary, hoping I haven't made a mistake. What if it turns out he is a real crackpot? Or just another small-minded bigot? But so far, so good. Finding Shirley is only marginally about Shirley Johnson, although her very real travails and her emergence from them (largely through the steadfast commitment of Jim Esala, the subject of this book) are recounted here. Mainly, this book is about Jim's conservative Christian life - as told by a skeptical liberal who had signed onto an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit to get the Ten Commandments removed from public property. These two very different people came together to produce his biography, and their differences are recorded here. But they learned to bridge misconceptions and prejudices and to appreciate one another's differences; and in so doing, they found deeply common ground and became genuine and respectful friends. Jim Esala is a Navy veteran of World War II, a retired florist who also worked as Great Lakes sailor, carpenter and construction worker. He was a pioneer both in missionary work and in establishing churches in northeastern Minnesota. However, the pulpit was not for him, and he returned to his true calling: helping others directly in his "marketplace" ministry. Perhaps the most revealing evidence of his selfless work during his long life is that dozens of people truly consider him to be their best friend. Susan Stanich is an award-winning reporter who worked as staff writer for the Duluth News Tribune, freelance feature writer and stringer for the Washington Post, and editor of two biweekly newspapers. She is author of short stories and screenplays, and co-author of a travel book, Insiders Guide to the Lake Superior Region.