If there’s anything most writers share, it’s fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of what people think. Fear of not being good enough. And on and on it goes, until we end up almost paralyzed. Our guest, Lynn H. Blackburn, has wrestled with fear as well––and she’s here to share what God has taught her about not letting fear hold us back.
About Lynn H. Blackburn
Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy—but her grown-up reality is that she’s a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations—while she’s sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! Her most recent book, One Final Breath, is the 3rd in the Dive Team Investigations series. You can connect with Lynn at her website LynnHBlackburn.com or on social media @LynnHBlackburn.
Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!
Erin: [00:02:20] Hello, listeners, welcome to the deep. We’re so excited to have you here with us, and I’m doubly excited because we have a guest. I love it when we have guests. We have Lynn H. Blackburn with us and Karen is going to introduce her.
Karen: [00:02:33] Lynn, welcome to Write from the Deep. Lynn is one of those amazing women. She started writing in 2009, and her first book, Covert Justice, was published by Love Inspired Suspense in 2015. She believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists and that it’s a gift from the truest love.
But she’s got this whole other life like so many of us do, aside from writing, and we want to talk a lot about what goes on in her life when she’s not writing because that impacts her writing.
Lynn, welcome again. You mentioned on your website that your daughter, Emma, has something called, and I know I’m going to say this wrong, Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome.
Lynn: [00:03:14] You got it right.
Karen: [00:03:16] I’m so smart.
You mentioned that for years, you considered yourself to be a therapy mom, and how having a child with a disability just rocked your world.
But God was both patient and faithful as you wrestled with your new reality. You said that being Emma’s mom has changed you in ways you never could have imagined and many things God has taught you about himself find their way into your books.
So, can you flesh that out a little for us? What exactly is the syndrome? How were you changed? What rocked your world? And what did God teach you about himself? Come on, share.
Erin: [00:03:47] And it’ll be two hours later!
Lynn: [00:03:50] In two minutes! So it’s Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. It’s not particularly common. It’s named after the two doctors who described it in the late sixties, Doctors Rubenstein and Taybi. And it is a syndrome with––it’s not really a blood test kind of thing––it’s something that’s generally more discovered by the doctors. It’s a clinical observation kind of thing.
Two main physical factors are, believe it or not, broad toes and broad thumbs. Her thumbs and her big toes are broad. And it was originally called something like broad toe broad thumb…or something like that. The gist of it mostly is that it’s cognitive delays, general developmental delays.
Emma is 16, almost 17. She weighs about 75 pounds. She’s about 4’7” or 4’8” and she probably won’t get much bigger than that. She is in a self-contained special ed classroom, and we have been very blessed with wonderful teachers and wonderful people in our world.
But you have a baby who you’re expecting to be healthy. This isn’t something that comes up on an ultrasound. This is something that you have a baby, and all of a sudden you’re in the NICU, and they’re throwing out terms and things, and it’s a whole new world, and you’re plunged into it immediately.
I grew up in the church. My father was a pastor. I got saved at a very young age, and I thought my faith was fine. And it was. I had gone through plenty of, you know, just growing up. But having something like that, it was the first time that I really wrestled with God’s sovereignty. And who he is.
I did everything right. That sounds very conceited and I don’t mean it that way. I was a good girl, you know? I mean, I don’t have this big rebellion story or any of that kind of stuff. I did everything I was supposed to do. Graduated at the top of my class, and I went to Clemson, and I got a degree. Go Tigers. And I got married.
I worked for several years, and we were involved in our church, and I did all the right things. And I did not think I deserved this. And I didn’t think she deserved it. And God was so gracious to me. I think I was angry for months, and I didn’t even realize it.
When he pulled me back to himself, it wasn’t like, “How dare you?” It was, “Honey, I know this hurts. I know it hurts. And I want to help you carry it. And I have reasons.” And he just revealed so much of himself to me, and he still does.
There are days when I struggle with the fact that we’re not communicating. Emma didn’t really speak at all until she was a little over three. And even now, we don’t have conversations. She can communicate her needs if she’s hungry or thirsty, that kind of thing. But it’s not like we’re having a conversation about how her day was.
I have to spend a lot of time just trusting God to show me and to reveal to me what she needs. It’s a constant dependence on him for everything. For her, for me, for all of it.
Through the whole thing I’ve just found him to be so faithful and so loving that even when these hard things come, there’s purpose, there’s meaning. He has a plan. And even that sense that when we get mad and kinda throw a temper tantrum about this thing that God has allowed, he’s not sitting there going, “I don’t know why you feel that way.”Even when these hard things come, there's purpose, there's meaning. #amwriting @lynnhblackburn Click To Tweet
He’s like, “Of course. I can imagine.” He’s a loving father and he knows what we’re going through. And he’s not up there just like, “Well, you should just trust me.” Of course, we need to trust. But he’s so much more compassionate about the whole process.
If we would just take it to him, all of it, the ugly, the pretty. You know, I pray so much more. My prayers are so much more raw. Why hide it? He already knows what I’m thinking. So there’s no point in putting a pretty, spiritual terminology on it.
David was not pretty in his prayers. His laments are, “Lord, can we just kill them all?” He’s not nice in his prayers. And God called him a man after his own heart.
I have two boys that are 11 and 8, and sometimes I think they’re so lucky that God gave me Emma first. Because there’s so many things as a first time parent or before you have kids where you’re like, “Oh, my kids will never do that.”
Erin: [00:08:54] And they do.
Lynn: [00:08:54] They do all of it. And you get over it.
But even things like developmental milestones, you know, as my boys started, I’d be like, “Look, do you see what they just did? They didn’t need any therapy for that! They did it all on their own. Isn’t that amazing?” And it’s just, I’m much more grateful for all of it.
And also, I may have some control issues. One of the best pieces of advice that a developmental geneticist gave to me when I was asking her about Emma, and I said, “What do I expect? What would she be able to do when she’s five or ten or fifteen?”
She looked at me, and it was not the advice I wanted, but it was the advice I needed. She said, “You will know what she can do when she’s five, when she’s five. And you will know what she can do when she’s ten, when she’s ten. And you can make yourself crazy between now and then trying to figure it out, second guess it, and wonder. Or you can take it as it comes.
And there’s such an open-handed thing going on there. You just have to hold it open and say, “Okay, we’ll take it as it comes.” And there are things that she does now that I wouldn’t have known she could do. And there are also things that if I’d known she was still going to be dealing with when she was sixteen when she was two, I wouldn’t have had thought I could handle it.
And so God knows. We learn, we grow together. And I am a much better person and mother because of her. And because of being her mom. My walk with God is just, it’s so much deeper than it ever was because there is so much more dependence and reliance just for every day.
Erin: [00:10:46] Yeah.
Karen: [00:10:46] Erin and I were talking this morning as we were getting ready for this podcast. We meet together and read Streams in the Desert as our devotional and pray together. And we were both bemoaning some of the issues that we’ve been dealing with.
We were saying how easy it is to get your eyes focused on the temporal. To be caught in your reality in this world and not have eyes focused on eternity, and so your emotions then can often take a nosedive. And I was saying, you know, today was not a great day for me emotionally. I was frustrated. I was angry about things on the physical realm.
She said, “Well, but you know…” and she was giving me encouragement and I said, “I know all that, but right now, I’m ticked. I need to acknowledge those emotions and then I can hand them over to God.”
I think one of the mistakes that too many of us make in our faith walk and even in our journey as writers, is we don’t acknowledge the emotional impact of something.
We feel like you said, like we need to be spiritual, and so we just kind of stuff it away. And that’s when those things start to fester inside, and eat away at our trust in and our devotion to God. Because we start to convince ourselves, because of circumstances and emotions, we start to convince ourselves of a reality that isn’t God’s reality.
So I really like what you’re saying and how it made you realize that you thought your faith was strong, but then it became even stronger. That as much of a foundation as your childhood and everything gave you, you went into a much deeper place with God because of where you were.
Lynn: [00:12:25] Yes, very much so.
Erin: [00:12:27] Let’s swing around to some of the practical aspects here, though, because your daughter is presenting some challenges to your work time, right? We were talking beforehand and you had mentioned this change in her schooling. Talk a little bit about how you’re handling the practical aspects when something comes up that you didn’t expect.
Lynn: [00:12:49] Well, I always tell people, just because you think you figured something out, that it changes. That’s pretty much where I am too. We’ve had her in schools that have been nearby since she was three. Now just this year she started high school, and she’s 25 minutes away, and there’s no bus.
Where before she hopped on the bus and the bus brought her back home and that’s how things went. Now I’m spending close to two hours a day in the car. When this came up, God and I had several conversations about the fact that I was already operating with little to no margin, and now I have two hours a day in the car. How am I supposed to do that?
It is amazing to me how God knows. I don’t know why it’s amazing. It’s like, it shouldn’t be a shock, and yet every time I’m just blown away by it all. I was in between book series and when my new contract was set up, we set the new series to release once a year. At the time I was like, I don’t know. I mean, once a year, I don’t know if readers will be happy about that.
But at the same time, I thought…there was something. And of course the something I know now was definitely the Holy Spirit. But I just felt like I needed to be okay with that. And this was back in February of this year that I needed to be okay with this schedule.
At the time we did not know that this would be the high school she would be in. We did not know any of this would happen. So God knew I was going to need more time to write these books even when I didn’t know. I find myself having to come back again and again to the fact that he has called me to it, and he’s also called me to be Emma’s mom, and he has also given me everything I need to fulfill the calling on my life.
And if I don’t think I have enough time, then it’s really convenient that I serve the God who exists outside of time. He created time, and he doesn’t operate in the same sphere that we operate in. He’s in control of that.If I don't think I have enough time, then it's really convenient that I serve the God who exists outside of time. #amwriting @lynnhblackburn Click To Tweet
And I have been amazed even over the last few months, and it’s still very new to us. My husband and I every week are like who’s taking her? What are we doing? You know, trying to figure it out. It’s a little bit of an adventure all the time.
And yet it’s so clear how God is giving me time that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. Sometimes, like today, my mother-in-law took my boys and they’re off to Columbia to visit with family, and now I have a weekend where I’m down to one child. And I thought I would have all three. And things like that where I can see his hand in it, and I can see him if I’m paying attention.
I can see him giving me time that I need to do what he’s asking me to do. It does require a lot of trust. I keep thinking it’s going to get easier. And I think it’s that constant dependence on him. That it pulls us back into knowing that we can’t do it without him, and not getting too big for our britches, and not thinking, “Oh, we figured this out.”
No. We need him for every bit of it. So that’s where I am.
And I know that will change too. Emma has five more years of school and then she ages out of the school system. You want to talk about something I don’t even want to think about? It’s without school at all. I don’t even know what that looks like. I just have to trust that I will know what she can do when she’s twenty-one, when she’s twenty-one.
And I know that God loves me, and I actually know he loves her even more than I do. So he’s going to make both of our paths clear as we get there.
You might need to remind me of that in a week. I mean…
Karen: [00:16:56] We’ll send you a little note that says, okay, listen to this again.
Lynn: [00:16:59] I don’t believe I live there all the time, but I know it in my head.
Karen: [00:17:04] Yeah. Yeah.
Lynn: [00:17:05] He’s so good to remind me.
Erin: [00:17:06] That’s the beauty of it. Well, one of the things that I also wanted to talk to you about is you’re a suspense writer, and yet, you know, we’ve had this email conversation about fear. I love the irony there, but one of the things that you said was, “I constantly question if I have anything of value to say. I have to fight to believe I have a voice.”
I know there are so many writers out there who would say that same thing. So tell us, how are you handling that? How are you fighting that fight? What are you doing about it?
Lynn: [00:17:45] Well, it’s so true. I do think other writers deal with this. I think we all do. Sometimes you read a book or you listen to someone in a conference or something who gives a talk and you think, “Why does anything I say even matter? We’ve got them.” In my case, I write romantic suspense. I mean, really? Come on. Irene Hannon. Lynette Eason. Dani Pettrey.
I could just go on and on. There’s so many. What do I have to add to this conversation? And the thing that I’m constantly having to remind myself of is two things. One, it’s not my call. God called me to this, so if he thinks I have something to say, who am I to question that?God called me to this, so if he thinks I have something to say, who am I to question that? #amwriting @lynnhblackburn @karenball1 Click To Tweet
I know it in my head. I don’t always feel it, but there are people that I can reach that others can’t for whatever reason. God knows what he’s done in my life and how that’s going to come out in the story. And it’s never going to look the same. You know, I could give the story I did to somebody else. They wouldn’t write it the same way I would. I also have to go back to the idea that he’s the one who left the ninety-nine to go find the one. He knows if I have something that he wants me to say, it might only impact one other person. But he’s the kind of God that does that.
So am I willing to serve him? Is my audience truly just him? Am I writing just for him? And if I’m really writing for him, then I need to write what he gives me to write and then trust him with everything that comes from there: who it goes to, where it goes, how it goes, how many books are sold.
All of those things are not up to me. Yes, I need to do my part. You know, I do my social media and my marketing and publicity. I do all those things, and yet, ultimately it’s in his hands.
Karen: [00:19:53] Right.
Lynn: [00:19:54] And I remind myself. I have versus stuck all over my desk about fear. I have things in my notes of the verses where Jesus called Peter out on the water, and the verses where they were on the boat and he had told them to go to the other side.
And then the storm came and he’s asleep in the boat and they’re so afraid. They come to him and they say, “Do you not care that we’re perishing? Like, we’re dying here?” And of course I love the disciples because, you know, I do that. “God, I’m dying here.” And he’s like, “Why are you afraid?”
So little faith. I find comfort in the fact that the disciples were the same way. And he rebuked them. He did. He said, “Why do you have so little faith?” And God had taken such little things––I think it was right before that he had fed the 5,000.
Karen: [00:20:54] Exactly.
Lynn: [00:20:54] He had taken this little lunch and fed 5,000. So my little voice, whatever I have to say. Who am I to say what God’s gonna do with that? My ultimate responsibility is just to sacrifice it to him and let him do what he wants with it.
But I have to stay in Scripture. I am constantly writing verses out, writing long hand, typing them, sticking them on walls and notes and mirrors because I just can’t be reminded enough of that truth. That ultimately my fear is based on my own weakness, and he has not given me a spirit of fear. He’s given me a spirit of power and love and a sound mind, and that’s where I need to operate from.
Karen: [00:21:42] I have a quote that I’ve had taped onto my desk forever, and it says, “Live by following your faith, no matter how weak it is, rather than your doubts, no matter how strong they may be.”
Lynn: [00:21:55] Oh, I like that. I like that a lot.
Karen: [00:21:59] I have to constantly remind myself of that. Just because my doubts are strong, it doesn’t mean they’re right. It just means that they’re emotions and you can’t measure reality, you can’t measure anything, with your emotions.
I like, too, that one of the things you were saying to us is your favorite thing right now is that you just keep circling back to Isaiah 41:13: “For I the Lord your God hold your right hand. It is I who say to you, fear not. I am the one who helps you.”
You say that you really clung to that verse while you were writing your second book. You thought of God holding your hand because there was a lot of intense spiritual warfare. So tell us about that.
Lynn: [00:22:38] Yeah. Interestingly enough, with this podcast, my second book in the series was called In too Deep and it’s kind of appropriate for y’all. It gets into human trafficking. I think anytime we talk about slavery, any kind of slavery––spiritual slavery, human slavery––Satan’s gonna fight that because he is all about slavery, where God has set us free.
We are free. Yet Satan wants to keep us bound in something. Of course, it took me a while to realize how much spiritual warfare was going on in the first place. I just was like, “Oh, duh. Of course that might be what’s happening.” I do sometimes wonder if God’s just sitting there shaking his head going, “Really?”
But it is that verse. He just keeps showing me things about that verse. It’s one of those fear not verses––I read a lot of the fear not verses––and they’re all over the Bible. And then this one where he talks about holding your hand, initially when I thought about it, I thought, you know, the way we hold a child’s hand. They’re running across the parking lot or something. We don’t want them to get hit so we hold their hand.
You know, maybe we’re helping them when they’re little. A little toddler helping them walk or something like that. And then later I got…it was just an image and I can picture it in my mind, specifically related for writers.
I have children that I teach. I’m homeschooling my boys. And when you’re first teaching a child how to write, you’ll hover behind them. You’ll come behind them, put your arms around them, wrap their hand in yours, and you’ll help them form the letters. You’re holding their hand and you are helping them write.
I just have that image now when I sit down at my computer and I think, “Okay, God, I want to do this with you. I need you to help me do this.” Whether you’re writing long hand or sitting at the computer. I just have this image of God literally hovering and helping me write.
I know you could take that same verse and apply it to a whole lot of things. But for those of us who write, I think that image is so, it’s just such a powerful thing because it’s not just about him giving us the ideas, it’s him holding us, holding our hand as we put the letters on the page or type them onto the screen.
I just keep staying there. And sometimes when I am most afraid, I get that, “I am the one who helps you.”
Karen: [00:25:27] Right.
Lynn: [00:25:28] And I let that image flood my mind and then get back to work.
Erin: [00:25:34] I love that it’s “I.” You know, fear not, I am the one…
Lynn: [00:25:39] Yes.
Erin: [00:25:39] It’s God. That wouldn’t work at all if it were like somebody you didn’t trust or who didn’t care.
You know, Lynn, what I love about what you’re saying is that you’re fighting this. You’re fighting through fear with trust in Scripture. You’re fighting with Scripture. You’re fighting with truth. Truth is the only thing we have and the most powerful thing that we have.
God’s Word is truth. And God is the Word. So it’s everything right there together. And it’s like what we need is to trust in God, which is the antidote to fear. And so we trust in the Word.
I’m gonna picture you forever, now, whenever I see your books, I’m going to picture these Scripture verses like surrounding you as you write, because I wish we would all do that.
I wish we had them all over our walls. Like it says in Deuteronomy. You know, write them on your walls and the doorframes of your houses.
Karen: [00:26:32] Well, some of us do.
But you know what? I don’t say that to say, yeah, we’re so great. But I have them all over to remind me––because you know, I have short term memory issues––but to remind me of God’s goodness in the face of when I look at today’s seeming reality, and to remember that from God’s perspective, it’s not reality at all.
Thank you so much, Lynn. This has been so much fun. I just think you’ve shared so much that’s valuable and beneficial to our listeners. For those of you who are listening, I really want you to focus on picturing yourself with God standing behind you, and his arms around you, and his hands on your hands as you’re writing.
Because that’s the reality. The reality is that if God has given you this task, he will equip you. He will fulfill what he seeks to do with your writing. He will fulfill his purposes for your writing. And that’s a beautiful image. So thank you, Lynn, that’s wonderful.
If you want to find out more about Lynn, you can go to her website at lynnhblackburn.com.
Erin: [00:27:39] We’ll have links in the show notes.
Karen: [00:27:41] Yeah, remember that short term memory thing.
Erin: [00:27:48] Thank you very much for being with us today, Lynn!
Lynn: [00:27:51] Thank you so much having me. I so enjoyed it.
We want to hear from you!
What do you do when you’re afraid?
Check out Lynn H. Blackburn’s newest release, One Final Breath.
Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!
Special thanks to our November sponsor of the month, Priscilla Sharrow! She’s working on her memoir, Bonked! Life, Love, and Laughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, which will be published by Redemption Press. You can find out more about Priscilla and the blog she writes for the TBI/PTSD community at her website: priscillasharrow.com.
Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous sound editing!
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