It’s easy to look at best-selling authors and think their lives must be golden, that they have it all and are just enjoying the fruits of their labors. But guest Terri Blackstock is here to tell us that life is often just as much of a struggle, or even more so, even when you’re hitting the best-seller lists. Which is why it’s so important to be grounded in God and His truth so you can trust Him no matter what.
Terri Blackstock is a New York Times and USA Today best-seller, who has written over 80 books and which have sold over seven million books worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. She has had over thirty years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.
Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.
Learn more about Terri at her website terriblackstock.com.
What the deep means to Terri…
I think the deep means that place you get where you trust God no matter what. When you pray for someone who isn’t healed, when you pray for something to happen and it doesn’t happen, when you pray for someone’s life, and they die. I think the place you go where you say I will trust Him anyway, no matter what, that’s the deep for me.
Life’s unexpected turns…
Around the year 2000 I had two very drastic things happen to me. One was that I got an injury that hurt my back, and it made it real painful to sit, of all things, because I sit a lot as a writer. I’ve continued to have that pain ever since. It’s worse all the time. I’ve had surgeries and all kinds of interventions and some of them have made me worse. I’ve had to deal with that. You might be surprised that I’ve written a lot of books, I don’t even know the number, lying on my side… most of my writing now is done in my car. I have a beautiful office that I designed my house around and I don’t even use it because it’s not comfortable to me to sit in the office. But my seat in my car is more comfortable if I’m seated just right.
Around that time is also when my older daughter went off to college and soon after that, she started using drugs. She’s never done it before she left home. That started us on a long long journey that has continued. She’s had a lot of struggles. Ups and downs. There are a lot of emergencies. As a mom I’m kind of always off-balance…I’ve been raising her five-year-old son. We’ve had him since he was two.
What I thought was going to be my golden years… I’ve moved back to starting someone in school again…but all this time I’m still writing.
How Terri copes with the challenges she faces while writing…
My favorite scripture during this time is Romans 8:28 – that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
I even did this in my most recent book. I had my character saying, “All things? Really? All things?” But yeah, ALL things. Even the bad things. That helps me because I can put it in perspective and realize that God has a purpose for what I’m going through…That helps me realize that whatever I’m going through, whatever God is building into my character, it’s something that I need. It’s something that He’s going to use. And it may not be until heaven.
How Terri writes in the face of challenges…
The underlying thing is that I have always had a passion for writing. It’s something that I’m drawn to. I get a lot of peace from it. I guess when you see it like that, you find a way to do it. That’s what’s happened to me. I have obstacles that for whatever reason are directly contradictory to a writing career, but somehow I just find a way because I want to so badly. That’s it…It helps me process things I’m going through. My reader may not realize that I have a lot of myself in that book but I do.
I have to say there are times when I doubt, but what I doubt it is not God’s goodness. What I doubt is my understanding of how He works. If I’m really upset because I’ve prayed for years, and nothing has happened, and I see no progress in one of these areas then I start thinking, okay why did I think that I would get this [answer] and what is it that I misunderstanding about what His word says? And when I go there I can usually find the flaw in my understanding. The false assumptions I’ve made.
The danger of “I’ve always been taught that…”
To me that’s a big red flag if you’ve “always been taught” something. It’s probably, it could be, wrong. I try not to lean too much on what I’ve “always been taught,” and I try to go find it for myself and see if it’s actually correct.
One of those is that if you raise up your children and the way they should go they will not depart from it. I have grappled with that one. I finally realized that it’s a principle more than a promise. There are differences in the Bible between promises and principles…God is very clear about the things that are promises. But the things that are said that are overriding principles, they’re just true in most cases… I see these shows on TV with these couples who don’t date and don’t court until they’re ready to get married and they have 25 kids and they’re all perfect. If that’s the standard of how to raise your child up then I failed because I didn’t raise my kids up that way. So what is that definition? And “when they’re old they won’t depart from it,” what does that mean? When you get down to that, you start understanding that it’s an overriding principle. While it applies to me, it’s not something that I should be mad at God about if He doesn’t bring it exactly like I think He should.
When He doesn’t answer our prayers, very often it’s because He has a greater plan for us. And I’ve written about those in several books. Having my grandson come live with us, I was not equipped to raise a preschooler. I didn’t have the energy. I still had back problems, and I was pretty miserable a lot of time. But I’ve realized that a lot of that was to get me moving again. I had noticed that I was trying to protect myself and not move.
All the studies of happiness that you read…they all say that if you take time to find things in this situation that you’re grateful for and spend time dwelling on that, it changes your thinking, and it changes your perspective, and it makes you happier. When I’m really upset with the fact of my age, and that I’m raising a preschooler, and I’m not really in the mood right then, I start trying to think of the things about him that I’m grateful for. He’s a fantastic kid. He has brought so much joy to our lives…It changes your thinking and changes your heart.
I do get frustrated. I get very disappointed that I’m still this way. That I still have pain and things are not resolving on that. And I just have bad days. I have days when I just about don’t speak to God. I’m admitting that out of honesty because it doesn’t do any good to act like I don’t have those days. There are times when I do struggle, but for the most part I try to keep my eyes on what I know about God and not on my circumstances.
Getting out of the slump…
I have to work at it. It doesn’t come naturally. I can stay in that slump for as long as I want to. But I have to really decide, okay time to look at my blessings. Time to look at what I’m grateful for. Time to see the joys. I keep a little list of things my grandson says that are really funny. Sometimes just pulling out that list starts me laughing. That helps. It pulls me out of my slump.
Being nice to yourself…
But taking time for myself is also important. There are days when you really have to be easier on yourself and rest…On those days I don’t get much writing done, and I don’t expect to.
A lot of younger writers—and I was there, I remember what it was like—they’re on this treadmill where they’re trying to write 3-4 books a year and they’ve got these impossible deadlines, and they’re having some of the health issues that are kind of occupational hazards. They’re forcing themselves to do it. To make those word counts and reach those deadlines, and I just want to say, “You guys slow down. It’s not worth it to make yourself get to the point where I am. Literally. I don’t want this to happen to you.” Before my injury I was like that. I was writing a lot… I had years where I wrote forward to six books a year. When I came to the Christian market I wrote two a year. Now I’m down to one a year, really 15 months. And I just have to do it that way in order to keep writing. I understand why younger writers do it because they’re building their careers and they need to make a living. But at the same time I think sometimes, the trade off…they’re not going to like what the trade-off is for that.
Parting words of wisdom…
Recognize what you’re trading off if you’re letting yourself be driven. Take another look and see what God is really asking of you…and be nice to yourself!
We want to hear from you!
What challenges do you have in trusting God no matter what?