Category: Podcasts

174 – 3 Pieces of Advice That Will Never Lead Writers Wrong

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3 Pieces of Advice That Will Never Lead Writers Wrong Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungEver wished someone could give you guaranteed advice for your writing journey? Well, someone has. The Apostle Paul shared these gems of wisdom that are as effective now as when God inspired him to write them.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

The writing life can be hard. We have to be vulnerable on the page and then take critique like it doesn’t hurt. We have to learn the rules of the publishing industry, yet watch people break rules and succeed. We invest time, sweat, and dollars into honing our craft without ever knowing for sure if anyone will care enough to read the finished product. Let alone if it will affect anyone.

This is a setup for angst. More so because it’s not all a one-time deal. We have to keep learning our craft. keep paying attention and adapting to the turbulent publishing industry. And even if someone did read our last book, we have to keep putting words out there without knowing who will read the next book. There are no guarantees.

You guys know, if you listen to the podcast, that we preach obedience to God as the measure of success. If he’s asking us to put words out there, it doesn’t matter if people don’t read it. But we know that still doesn’t make it easy to keep going forward.

Advice for writers

Today we want to share 3 pieces of wisdom with you. Wisdom that will help you through these challenges. Wisdom that has stood the test of time. It comes from the Apostle Paul, and it’s in his first letter to the Thessalonians in chapter 5, verses 16-18.

You might be wondering what ancient Thessolanica has to do with the publishing industry. Well, here’s some background, and you can read more here if you’re interested. 

One of the reasons Paul wrote to the Thessalonians was to restore their hope, because they experienced several unexpected deaths. 

Writers experience unexpected deaths as well, only more often it’s a beloved character that your editor says must be written out. Or it’s the death of a promising publishing contract. Or the death of a book idea that you really loved but God is leading you to set it aside. 

Or maybe it’s a manuscript that has too many fatal flaws and you just need to let it die and start from scratch. Or the death of your dream for an award or a bestsellers list or to quit your day job. Or even just to make money with your writing! Death happens. And it happened in Thessalonica too.

Another reason Paul wrote this letter was to help people understand that persecution is normal for Christians. People don’t always like you. When you write truth, there will be people who hate you. Suffering is a normal part of the Christian life.

Things go wrong. Bad things happen. Publishing is not fair. Life is not fair. This is the way of things.

You have to get the backdrop of Paul’s letter to Thessolanica clear in your minds because it makes his wisdom all the more astounding and counterintuitive. 

Are you ready? In the midst of death, suffering, persecution, and things going horribly wrong…

Rejoice Always

The first piece of advice or wisdom is: rejoice always. That’s right. In the midst of stuff dying all around us, rejoice. In the midst of persecution, rejoice. In the midst of hardship, rejoice.

Bear in mind that while we’re labeling this as advice, it is really a command. Paul’s inspired writing is the authoritative word of God. Paul says not just here, but also elsewhere (Philippians 4:4 for example) that God’s children are to rejoice. We might be writers, but first we’re God’s children. We need to follow what God commands his children to do.

What does it look like to “rejoice always”? Are we supposed to laugh when we learn of tragedy? Never be sad or depressed?

No. We’re allowed those emotions. We’re allowed to grieve and feel sad at times. Remember that Jesus himself wept when he stood at Lazarus’s tomb. We don’t ignore our pain, but in the midst of that pain, we can allow a deeper joy to still exist. Here are some ways we can do that:

1) Recognize and affirm that God is in control, that he is good, and that he’s going to work all things for his good purpose.

That does not mean we slap on a happy face. It means we hold on to truth in obedience. When bad things happen in our writing lives (and they will!), we have to hold on to God’s truth and trust him.

2) Continually invite and embrace the Holy Spirit’s work in us to give us the fruit of joy.

The gifts of the Spirit come from God. We don’t manufacture them. But we can make the choice to keep embracing, keep inviting, keep trusting that fruit of joy to grow.

3) Spend time in worship. 

Remember what Job did when he learned that all his children died and all his wealth was carried off by raiders? Here’s what Job 1:20-21 says: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’”

He tore his robe, he shaved his head. Those are signs of his grief and distress. But in the midst, he still worships God.

When Paul and Silas were in prison, what did they do? They sang hymns. Paul knows what he’s talking about when he commands us to rejoice always. He’s lived through the challenges of doing it.

4) Don’t focus on negativity, on pessimism, because your thoughts affect your emotions.

It’s hard to rejoice when you continually think of your wounds, trials, aggravations, and so forth. Paul instructs the Philippians in his letter to them, which is full of the command to rejoice, to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. If you’re doing that, you can’t be focused on negativity.

Pray without ceasing

The second piece of advice—command, actually—is to pray without ceasing, but what does that mean?

Praying without ceasing is about our attitude. It’s about our normal posture of life being that of humble reliance on God. An article on the Gospel Coalition Website puts it this way: “[praying without ceasing] means that there is a spirit of dependence that should permeate all we do.” 

As we’re writing, we write in dependence on God. As we encounter the death of our manuscript, or character, or goal, or whatever, we walk through it in a state of humble reliance. As we suffer, we walk in a spirit of acknowledgement that God is our strength through it. He’s our justifier, our defender, and our helper. 

Praying without ceasing means being ever mindful of our need and God’s constant supply. But it does not mean that we repeat the same prayer every second of our lives. But it does mean that we pray “repeatedly and often” as the article puts it. It goes on to say that our “default mental state should be: ‘O God, help.’”

Another thing “praying without ceasing” means is that we keep praying no matter what, and we don’t ever give up on prayer. As Christians and writers, giving up on prayer can be a temptation we don’t even know we’re facing. We simply get discouraged, tired, or burned out. We feel battered by the publishing machine, and we feel like God isn’t answering our prayers. And we just kind of…stop praying. Or we get angry and deliberately stop talking to God. 

When we stop praying, that disrupts our connection to God. We’re isolated and a prime target for not just lies we tell ourselves, but the destructive things our enemy will tell us.

In everything give thanks

Paul’s third command is to give thanks in everything. Not just the good things. Not just the easy things. Not just the fun things. Everything. This means we have to give thanks for the hard things, too. 

We all know the writing life is filled with setbacks, disappointments, and painful lessons. And certainly with unexpected detours. So sure, take a moment to collect your thoughts. To grieve. To lament. But underneath that, we still want to have a thankful heart. As an act of obedience we still need to walk in gratitude because God is sovereign and works everything for our good and his glory. We come back to that over and over because it’s the truth he’s given us. It’s the hope.

Also, let’s not neglect to give thanks for good things. Yes, it’s easier to give thanks for good things, but do we remember to actually do that? How often do we wake up in the morning and thank God that he’s putting breath our my mouths? That our hearts are beating? That he made the sun rise? That he’s holding the entire universe together even right this second.

We could spend every second of our lives thanking God for all the good things he does because there are so many! And again, if we’re focused on thanking God, it’s so much easier to rejoice, right?

So, Paul tells us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in everything. But look at the rest of the verse:

For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

This is bonus wisdom, or maybe clarification. How many people struggle to know what God’s will is? Here it is: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks. This is what he wants us to do. When we’re faithful in these things, we ARE in God’s will. 

Yes, sometimes we feel like we need answers to questions we have. Should I submit to this agent or that one? Should I go to this conference or that one, or any at all this year? Should I keep writing in this genre or switch to that one?

But too often we overemphasize our need to get answers and underemphasize time spent rejoicing in God’s presence, or thanking him, or resting in his presence, or letting him lead the conversation, or quietly adoring, or listening. All these actions are part of rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in everything. Doing that will help us find our way, because we’ll trust that God is in fact leading us in his way and his time and for his purposes. He has purposed our steps. God’s got this. Always!

Ever wished someone could give you guaranteed advice for your writing journey? Well, someone has! #amwriting #ChristianWriter Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

In what ways do you find Paul’s commands challenging?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

We have openings in our Patreon Sponsor of the Month tier. You’ll get your name mentioned on the podcast with a link to your website and your latest book. You’ll also have a link right here in the show notes, as well as a banner on our regular podcast page. Check it out here! We appreciate your consideration!

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast P.S. for their fabulous sound editing!

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173 – Daily Peace in an Anxious World

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Daily Peace in an Anxious World Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungWith all the chaos happening around us, we need peace more than ever. And yet it can seem elusive and transient. Come listen in as we share guaranteed steps to help you get (and keep!) true daily peace—no matter what’s happening in the world…or your life.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that we live in a fallen world filled with chaos, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, busyness, and way too much rushing around. It can keep us up nights, give us ulcers, or just plain suck the joy out of life. What we could all use is a big hearty dose of peace.

What is peace?

Merriam Webster says peace is:

  • “a state of tranquility or quiet”
  • “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions”
  • “harmony in personal relations”

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for the idea of peace is shalom. What did they mean by that? Here’s a quote from an article answering that very question:

“What is shalom? The ancient Hebrew concept of peace, rooted in the word ‘shalom,’ meant wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity, carrying with it the implication of permanence.”

Another article on Christianity.com adds:

It is completeness, soundness, wellbeing, complete reconciliation. One of the names of God is Yahweh-Shalom, or The Lord Our Peace (Judges 6:24), and Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).” 

Who originated peace?

That quote and these verses tell us something important. They tell us who originated peace. It’s God, Yahweh-Shalom. It’s Jesus, the Prince of Peace. This makes sense because God is the creator of all things.

Why do we need peace?

First and foremost, because our relationship with God has been broken by sin, we need peace with God—reconciliation, harmony in that relationship. God provided this peace in Jesus, through his sacrifice on the cross.

Colossians 1:19-20 tells us: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” 

Why else do we need peace? Let’s go back to another of Webster’s definitions: Peace is a state of calm, of feeling good. Who doesn’t want to feel good? Psalm 37:11 says, “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”

Peace is delightful!

Another reason we need peace is that it glorifies God when we exhibit it. Peace is listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as one of the fruits of the spirit. These fruits are great for us, they benefit us, but they also show that we belong to God because ultimately these gifts come from him.

How can we get peace?

1. Getting peace starts by knowing where—or who—peace comes from: Jesus.

Consider John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

And, going back to the article on Christianity.com, it says, “True shalom is only reached through God.”

We need to know where and who peace comes from in order to get it.

2. Another way we get peace is by seeking and pursuing it.

Psalm 34:14 tells us, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

2 Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

We need to think about ways we can be more proactive in seeking peace. What does pursuing peace look like in our lives?

3. We should also be praying for peace, because again, God gives it to us.

Here’s a familiar prayer from Numbers 6:25-26: “The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Psalm 29:11 says, “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!”

We need to pray for peace.

4. We also need to avoid wickedness in order to have peace. 

Isaiah 48:22 says, “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”

Zechariah 8:16-17 tells us, “‘These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate,’ declares the Lord.”

How can we nurture peace? 

So we know where peace comes from and how to get it. But just because we gain a little peace, doesn’t mean we don’t have to do anything else. We need to nurture the gift of peace that God gives us. We don’t want to let it whither and die.

1. The first way to nurture peace is to know God better and better.

2 Peter 1:2 says, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

2. We can also nurture peace by loving God’s law.

Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

3. We should love peace, too.

Here’s Zechariah 8:19b “…Therefore love truth and peace.”

4. Walking in wisdom also helps us nurture peace in our lives.

Proverbs 3:17, speaking about wisdom, tells us, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

5. We can also nurture peace by planning to live, to the best of our ability, at peace with people.

Especially these days when so many things in our society spark anger and dissension, we need to think ahead about how we can approach life peacefully. Proverbs 12:20 says, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.”

In Romans 12:18 the apostle Paul urges, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

6. One of the biggest ways to nurture peace in our lives is to keep our focus on God in trust.

We said earlier that we can nurture peace by knowing God better and better, and the benefit of knowing him is that we learn he’s trustworthy. When we focus on trusting God rather than on our worries or problems, peace is the result. 

Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

God is in control. We can trust that and we can trust him.

Mark 4:39 says, “And [Jesus] awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Jesus is in control of not just the weather, but all the stormy circumstances in our lives. 

7. Finally, we can’t nurture peace, or truly even have God’s peace, if we turn away from him.

Psalm 85:8 says, “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.”

Even scarier as a warning is what it says in Jeremiah 16, verses 5 and 9. Israel rejected God and he took away their peace. Here’s what it says: “For thus says the Lord: ‘Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them, for I have taken away my peace from this people, my steadfast love and mercy,’ declares the Lord.”

Peace Stealers

We’ve talked about what peace is, how we get it, and how we can nurture it. But even with all that, we know daily peace can still be a battle because there are plenty of peace stealers out there in our daily lives. Peace stealers can be things like: being overbooked, regretting the past, worrying about the future, lack of gratitude, and on and on the list goes.

We encourage you to think about what your personal peace stealers are. We all have them, but we can fight them. We can combat them with God’s Word, God’s promises.

We’ve already read a lot of Scripture about peace, but guess what? There’s more! Take some time now and just absorb God’s Word. Let it wash over you.

Just as a reminder, not only do we have the Scripture list here, but it’s also always in our newsletter. We want you to be able to go back to these verses again and again. (If you signed up for our newsletter and you’re not getting it, check your spam folder. Or sign up again because there may have been a technical glitch.)

Scriptures to soak in

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:13

“My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Isaiah 32:18

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Romans 16:20

“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” 2 Peter 3:14

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

“Finally, [brothers and sisters], rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

With all the chaos happening around us, we need peace more than ever. Listen in as we share steps to help you get (and keep!) true daily peace—no matter what’s happening in the world…or your life. #ChristianWriter #amwriting Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What are your “peace stealers” and what helps you fight against them?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

We have openings in our Patreon Sponsor of the Month tier. You’ll get your name mentioned on the podcast with a link to your website and your latest book. You’ll also have a link right here in the show notes, as well as a banner on our regular podcast page. Check it out here! We appreciate your consideration!

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast P.S. for their fabulous sound editing!

STAY CONNECTED

Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.

In the Valley of the Shadow of Death with Guest Sharon Hinck, Part 2

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In the Valley of the Shadow of Death with Guest Sharon Hinck Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungWhat if God took away your ability to write? Guest Sharon Hinck has walked through some deep valleys, and she knows firsthand how insecurities and the enemy’s lies hit hardest in the midst of our darkest times. But she also knows without a doubt that God is there, even through the mystery of unanswered questions, turning the darkness to light. Listen in as she shares how God led her into a profound new understanding of her extraordinary worth.

About Sharon Hinck

Award-winning author Sharon Hinck writes “stories for the hero in all of us,” about ordinary people on extraordinary faith journeys. She has been honored with three Carol awards, and the 2020 and 2021 Christy Award in the Speculative Fiction category. She has experience as a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a church organist, and an adjunct professor for Creative Writing MFA students. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but meanwhile she’s pouring her imagination into writing. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking for conferences, retreats, and church groups.

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!

Erin: Welcome, listeners. We are delighted that you’re here with us in the deep, and today we’re continuing our interview with Sharon Hinck.

Oh my gosh, you guys, this was such a great interview, and I’m looking forward to you hearing more. So we’re gonna jump right in!  

Sharon: As someone who has always been a bit of an overachiever in personality, God had to do a lot in me to remind me that just being his is all I need to be. That it isn’t what I accomplish. It’s not how many books I get written. How many words I write that day.

The story of the Dancing Realm series is another miracle of his mercy because I had gotten very, very ill after several books came out with Bethany House and Nav Press. I was just going gangbusters, then I got very sick and was actually mostly bedridden for two years.

I had tons of cognitive loss, which is terrifying when you’re a writer, you can’t find words. 

Erin: Yeah. 

Sharon: And physical weakness. I thought, “That’s it. I can’t write anymore.” 

Years went by. Eventually I was writing devotions because I could do little tidbits. Then God used that. I eventually got a little bit stronger mentally, a little stronger physically. 

I was talking to my agent and he said, “You used to be a dancer. Why don’t you write about a story world that dance is involved?”

I said, “Oh, I don’t know.” 

But I started to play, and it was difficult. It felt choppy, so I was afraid the writing would be choppy. You know, it was sentence by sentence. Writing in little pieces. It didn’t flow, but God enabled me to write that series. 

Then it was terrifying when the first book came out. I thought, “People are gonna say, ‘Oh, we used to like her stuff. What happened to her?'”

I was literally biting my nails, and so to have it well received was so meaningful to me.

Karen: I love how God works that way. And it’s predictable how the enemy works. On the very heels of a miracle from God, the enemy steps in and says, “Well, maybe he helped you do this, but it’ll be crap. Nobody will wanna read it.”

All those insecurities come up, and he’s doing everything he can to steal God’s glory in this miracle that God’s done and to steal our peace in the midst of God’s miracle. If we could just keep our eyes focused on him and ignore those stupid voices inside of us that are speaking condemnation and fear and insecurity. 

You know, we’ve been through a really horrific time here in the last couple of months. Things happened that I ended up feeling really stupid about. Things that I fell for. We were conned twice by moving brokers and there was the potential that we were going to lose $11,000. 

I spent so much time just being angry with myself until my husband said, “These guys are pros at cunning people. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, they’re pros at what they’re doing.”

Finally I came to the end of myself in all of it because I’ve always prided myself on being capable, being able to handle a lot of things. I finally came to the place where I was just telling God, “You take it. I can’t do it, God. You take it.”

We may end up still losing about, I don’t know, $1,500. But that’s incredibly better than $11,000. We’re doing something different, but it’s coming together and we actually will be able to move out of this house and close when we need to without any problems.

So, more and more lately, I’m just like, “Father, just show me what to do. Show me what to do, because I got nothing.” 

Sharon: And give yourself grace. Because I do the same thing. I mentioned earlier, before we started the recording, how I struggle with technology. I get mad at myself and I feel like I’m so dumb. How do I not understand this stuff? 

You would give others grace. You would not condemn a friend who got conned. We need to give ourselves grace and that’s what God taught me as I had time away from writing, when I couldn’t write. Not only did I feel useless, I felt like a burden to the people around me.

Not only was I not producing and I wasn’t accomplishing great things for God’s kingdom, which is what I always want to be doing, but I was actually making people spend time helping me, which was wasting their time, in my opinion.

Karen: I can tell you, that’s got to be the most difficult thing for any of us who are able to do things is asking for help. Like you, I struggled a lot with health issues in the last five or ten years and realizing, or being able to accept the phrase, “Yes, there was a time when I could do that, but I cannot do that now.”

Sharon: Oh, it’s hard. It’s so hard. 

Karen: It’s hard to go to someone when you’re the one who’s usually offering help to people and teaching people and mentoring people, and you’re coming in and saying, “Could you come to my house and help me pack a box?” 

Sharon: Yeah! And again, it’s in those places where we see our need. My pastor recently, in a sermon, talked about the story, the parable, where the man goes to his neighbor and is pounding on the door in the middle of the night, “Oh, I don’t have enough food. I have a guest. Could you lend me something?”

He said the hero of the story is that man going and confessing his need and asking for help.

Karen: Yes. 

Sharon: That was a new insight for me. I thought, “Oh! Hey, finally, I could be the hero of the story because I’m needy. I’m needy. I can say that!”

I used to worry that I was Miss Needy-Pants all the time. 

Karen: Now you’re just Miss Needy-Hero. 

Sharon: That’s right! It can be very courageous to admit need. I see that with all the friends that I have seen suffer in these past years. With loss of loved ones, with depression, with anxiety. When they’re honest about those places of pain and need and share that, it helps others who are hurting. I love that verse, I do my bad paraphrase of it: that he comforts us with his comfort so that we can comfort others with the same comfort with which we were comforted.

It is so true. And then we can be there for each other. We aren’t the heroes of our own story. We just point to the hero, which is Jesus. 

Karen: Absolutely! Preach it, Sister!  

Erin: Sharon, you had said that God taught you that just being his was enough. What do you think was one of the final straws that helped you realize that? That really pulled that together for you?

Sharon: Well, I have to confess it’s a daily battle. 

Karen: Yeah. 

Sharon: It has not been resolved. That issue is not fully resolved. But, getting to that point of, “I may never be able to write again. I may never be able to read again…” I still struggle to read for pleasure, which is a huge loss. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was four years old.

My critique partners would send me chapters and I could edit and critique because it used a different part of my brain. 

Karen: Exactly. 

Sharon: But I couldn’t read for pleasure. That’s still a struggle for me, although I’ve started to be able to do audiobooks. But all these things that defined me—I thought all these things defined me—having them taken away really gave me a chance to rest in God and know he loves me, whether I do another thing or not. 

I spoke last year. In the spring I did a keynote through zoom for a writer’s conference. I started out by saying, “This is gonna sound very radical: it’s okay to not write.”

Karen: Yeah. 

Sharon: Because we get so caught up in, “Oh, I have to do this.” And we compare to other people and what they’re accomplishing. Having God strip me down to being useless to him and then realizing he still loved me…he doesn’t love me based on me doing stuff for him. I mean, intellectually, I knew that, but I absorbed it in a deeper way through those years of illness. 

Karen: Intellectually, we know that for others. And we teach that to others. 

Sharon: Yes, exactly. 

Karen: But for us, that’s just a bitter pill to swallow. But one of the things that Erin and I teach at writer’s conferences, both when we teach together and we teach separate, is this isn’t about writing. This task that God has given us isn’t about writing. It’s about obedience. And it’s about honoring God in what we’re doing. 

If our book never gets published, you still have been obedient. That’s what matters. 

And if you have been published and suddenly you can’t write anymore, are you being obedient in the midst of that experience? God isn’t taking away your dream. God is refining you and giving you a new, deeper, more profound dream of just being his. 

Sharon: To be more closely connected to him is a gift that doesn’t compare. I mean, no writing contract, no award, no anything compares to getting to know him more intimately. And we have that blessing sometimes in the deep, and sometimes in the dark places, and the valley. 

Erin: What I love is that in this situation with the Dream of Kings book, your obedience to not write led to a beautiful time with your mom. It led to lots of other grief, of course, but then it did turn around and lead to writing again. To another book.

It doesn’t always work that way. But sometimes it does, and in this case it did. That’s gonna be really exciting to have that book. You listeners out there, this book will be available on pre-order when this podcast comes out. It’s Dream of Kings, and I’m looking forward to reading that. 

Karen: Me too. 

Erin: I actually read your Dancing Realms series as well. 

Sharon: I’m always so surprised when someone other than my mom or my husband have read my books! Thank you, Erin. 

Erin: What I wanted to say, too, about it is that I thought the premise was really neat. That whole idea of dance being so important in that world. I mean, that was just a really cool idea that hadn’t come up that I had seen before. I thought it was a fascinating premise. 

I also liked the fact that, you know, sometimes I think when people write a series, people will love the first book. Then with the next few books that come along, people are like, “Well, good, we wanna finish the story.” But the first book seems to be the real hit, the best book.

With you, of course the books were good, but I actually liked the last book best. I mean, I thought that was where things really like… well, I don’t want to spoil it for readers. It was just a really good final book of a series.

Sharon: Oh, thank you!  

Erin: It gets my recommendation. 

Sharon: Cool. Along with what Karen said about the enemy loving to whisper lies to us, I actually had a dream around the time the third book came out where I was talking to someone and they said, “Yeah, the first two were okay. But that third book has no plot.” 

I woke up sweating and just totally convinced, “Oh no, the book is out there now and it has no plot!” 

Karen: I don’t know why we’re so quick to believe the enemy lies. I just…

Erin: Says the person who’s now got all these bills that she has to pay, because she got taken in. I mean, it’s because that’s who we. 

Karen: No, no, I’m saying, I don’t know why we believe them. I recognize that I’m right there with them!  

Erin: It’s just dumb on our part. But we do. We just do. I mean, maybe it’s just so that we know that we really still need God.

Sharon: Yeah. 

Karen: I don’t think it’s dumb, actually. I think that it’s human. 

Erin: Good point. 

Karen: I think that the voice of the enemy is seductive and impactful, and God speaks in that small, still whisper. We have to listen so hard to hear God’s voice over the cacophony of the enemy’s lies being thrown at us.

If I’ve seen nothing else over these last several weeks, I’ve seen how the enemy just brings it from all directions and in all manner of doing it. I sit there and I think to myself that the enemy is so obvious in his battle against us. Of course, ABC happened because God was doing a great work. So the enemy came in to distract and do everything to keep me from looking at God and resting in God. 

Once I finally realized, “Okay, this is another attack,” I went back to that place that I was before and just saying, “God, I got nothing. You have to handle this because I cannot do this.”

There’s so much peace in recognizing it. 

Sharon: Yeah. Another thing that I’ve been realizing is, through my character’s journey in Dream of Kings, she’s always trying to find a purpose that would make all the losses worthwhile. And she’s not finding that. And to come to the realization that God may not explain himself to us. And that’s okay. He is good. He is working out a purpose. 

Karen: He’s God. It’s not like he owes us anything. Let alone an explanation. 

Sharon: That’s right. I feel like sometimes we’re secret agents and we operate on a need-to-know basis. And God doesn’t think we need to know everything he’s doing behind the scenes. But we can trust he’s doing way beyond what we can imagine behind the scenes. 

That’s what my character Jolan found throughout Dream of Kings. Things that she couldn’t even imagine that The Provider, as she called him, was doing in that world.

Karen: Right. 

Sharon: But yeah, it’s easier when you can see a direct purpose. “Oh, my car died. There was an accident a mile down the road that I would’ve been in, but my car died. God used that to protect me. Yay. A bad thing happened. I see the good purpose. Yay.” 

But a lot of times we aren’t given that and we have to walk by faith. Faith that God is love, and faith that he has a purpose, and faith that he is with us in it, and he is transforming the pain into something beautiful. 

Karen: Exactly. 

Erin: Yeah. I think the deal is that we don’t have the wisdom to understand. Or the judgment to understand what would be worthwhile anyway. We want to know, but we are just going to compare it to our own human thinking of what is worthwhile. So God’s just like, “Don’t even go there.”

It’s like trying to explain to my golden retriever why she can’t have a bunch of water right before she goes to sleep at night. She’s just not gonna get it. 

I guess that’s where we are human and God is God. If we could understand what made something worthwhile, we would be God and we’re not. 

Karen: And God is telling us, “Don’t worry about understanding. Be it peace. Understanding isn’t the be all and the end all. Peace. Be at peace. My peace I give to you. Not peace like the world gives, but my peace I give to you.” 

Erin: Yes. 

Sharon: Amen. Oh, I love talking with you guys. I feel like I’m in church. 

Erin: We’re coming to the end of our time, so I was going to ask you if you have any final words of wisdom or encouragement you wanted to leave with our listeners. 

Sharon: Well, I know that most of your listeners are writers and they want to be writing from the heart, writing for God. I would say just what you said earlier. It’s about following his lead. Sometimes it’s okay to not write. Sometimes he calls us to write. Sometimes he calls us to write an unexpected thing, or sometimes the theme of a story changes. 

It’s fun when we can see how he uses life circumstances in our stories, but sometimes we won’t see it. All of your listeners who are writers, get ready for that wonderful day when we’re all in heaven and someone comes up and says, “I was struggling with X, Y, and Z, and I read this novel you wrote, and that character went through a journey like I did, and God used that.”

Isn’t that gonna be a fun party? When we find out that he’s actually working through these humble stories that we’ve struggled so hard to write?  

Karen: Right. It’s gonna be wonderful. Well, Sharon, we’re out time. It’s been delightful to talk with you. It really has. I told you that you didn’t need to be afraid. You did a great job.

Sharon: You guys are so awesome. 

Karen: We’re so delighted with what you’ve shared with us and with our listeners. Friends, let’s just continue to pray for each other. To lift each other up in this time of darkness and struggle, and work to remember that what we need to do is leave it to God and rest in him because that’s what will carry us through.

Erin: Amen. 

Sharon: Amen.

What if God suddenly took away your ability to write? Guest @SharonHinck shares her story. #am writing #Christianwriter Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What would you do if you suddenly found you couldn’t write anymore?

BOOK BY SHARON HINCK MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST

Dream of Kings by Sharon Hinck

Dream of Kings by Sharon Hinck

Windward Shore (Dancing Realms, Book 3) by Sharon Hinck

Windward Shore Dancing Realms Book 3 cover by Sharon Hinck

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Thanks so much to our August sponsor of the month, Priscilla Sharrow! She’s working on her memoir called Bonked! Life, Love, and Laughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, which will be coming out with Redemption Press. Learn more about Priscilla at her website priscillasharrow.com and follow her blog for the TBI/PTSD community.

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