"I’ve always heard that if you want to know about a parent, you don’t have to look much further than their children,” said writer and businesswoman Sarah Jakes, the daughter of influential megachurch pastor and bestselling author Bishop T.D. Jakes.

If not for the unconditional love of her own parents, Jakes’ life could have taken a completely different turn following her pregnancy at age 13, as rumors and rejection both at school and at church threatened to consume her. Reflecting on the difficulties of motherhood through her deeply-rooted Christian faith, Jakes began a careful study of Jesus Christ’s mother, Mary, in what became her second book, the forthcoming Dear Mary: Lessons from the Mother of Jesus for the Modern Mom (Bethany House Publishers, September).

Jakes, who graduated high school at 16 as a young mother before studying journalism at Texas Christian University, first shared her life’s story in a memoir Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life (Bethany House Publishers, 2014). Today, the 26-year-old is a staff member at The Potter’s House/TDJ Enterprises, her father’s nondenominational megachurch serving more than 30,000 members, and she is married to pastor Touré Roberts. The couple share five children from previous marriages, and just last month, Jakes announced that she and her husband are expecting their first child together.

As her journey through motherhood continues to evolve, Jakes looks back on her first pregnancy as a young, unwed mother in her new book, drawing comparisons between her experience and the strife Mother Mary endured after becoming pregnant with Jesus. It is the author’s hope that Dear Mary will convey her own lessons from Mary to other mothers, and in turn, their children. “For mothers hoping to motivate their children to survive the adversities of life, there are no greater lessons than those that exist through the life of Christ,” said Jakes.

The book, in stores on September 15, features Jakes’ innermost thoughts on motherhood in the form of written letters to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The letters “allow mothers to have an intimate view of conversations we’re often too afraid to have with one another,” she said. “I allowed the joys and concerns of my heart to create an opportunity to glean from the lessons I’ve learned through Mary’s motherhood.”

Jakes, who is also the senior editor at the women’s magazine eMotions, finds Mary’s journey to be a lesson in patience, faith, and divine insight, and one that instills in her the importance of being “in tune” with her own children in order to help “bring out all that God has placed inside of them, even when the world tries to take it from them.”

Like Mary, Jakes hopes “to raise children that are sensitive to God and all of humanity,” and prays that her children develop a resilient faith. “My prayer is that they’ll be courageous enough to not become irreparably fragile when life, as promised, becomes difficult,” she said.