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058 – Did God Really Ask You to Write?

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast Did God Really Ask You to WriteHave you ever sat back and wondered if you heard wrong about being a writer? If God really did give you the task to write, then why is it all so…difficult? Frustrating? Disappointing? And why isn’t He confirming that He gave you this task?

Most of us are doing this task of writing because we believe God has given it to us. So why do so many writers struggle with doubt? Why do we wonder if we really did hear God correctly? Or struggle to know what He’s leading us to do right now?

The good news is that you’re not alone. It’s not uncommon for writers to wonder if maybe they heard God wrong. Or to want, down the road, some sense of confirmation that God really said what they thought He did.

There are many reasons people take on the task of writing, and not all Christians who write do so because they believe God has called them to it. It’s fine if you’re writing because you love it, and you’ve decided to serve God by doing so. It’s okay if you serve God in other ways and write just because you enjoy it.

For many of us, though, we write because we believe God asked us to do so, that this is how He wants us to honor and serve Him. We believe He’s given us the task to write for Him. That gives us our purpose and determination. It keeps us going when things get hard or even ugly.

And yet we still doubt we heard God correctly!

Why We Doubt

Our passion ebbs

  • When things don’t happen the way we expect
  • When someone criticizes us
  • When we don’t take time to maintain our relationship with God
  • When we get too preoccupied with DOING and forget to simply listen
  • When we ask but don’t wait for God’s answer

We hear God’s directions once but we want more continual confirmation

  • We doubt when we’ve been at our task for weeks, months, or years and haven’t heard anything more from God
  • Consider Joseph’s situation in Matthew 2:13. “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’” All that time in Egypt couldn’t have been easy—starting over in a foreign land. Did Joseph doubt? Did he feel forgotten? Did he wonder if he heard right? We don’t know. But we do know that they stayed in Egypt until he got new directions to return.

We don’t ask the right questions, so we don’t get answers, and it makes us doubt

  • Think about Job and his friends. They’re trying to figure out what’s going on, what Job did wrong to deserve such horrible things. Then God speaks up and basically tells Job he’s asking the wrong question. It’s not about why, it’s about understanding who God is and what it means to follow His leading.
  • Notice in the Gospels how often Jesus is asked a question and he doesn’t answer it, or he answers a different question that they should have asked. We get so focused on our situation, our goals, and our plans that we forget this writing journey is part of our discipleship, part of our walk with God. He’s concerned about our character and about us valuing Him.
The Hard News

This issue really isn’t about hearing God at all. It’s about knowing Him. As well as—or even better than—you know your closest friends and family. Think about it, when your best friend calls you on the phone, do you recognize his or her voice? Of course, because you know that person so well. You know the inflections in his words, the sound of her laughter and weeping. You know her as well as you know yourself. That’s how well you need to know God.

You have within you the very spirit of the living, Almighty God. If you don’t know Him, or His spirit, as well as you do your friends and family, you need to focus on getting to the point where you, the sheep, are so well acquainted with the Shepherd’s voice that your response to it is immediate. That the sense you have when He speaks is one of trust and obedience. And you don’t doubt that you heard it, because you know it too well to do so.

The way to hear God, to know it’s His voice speaking to you, is simply to take the time to build relationship with Him.

Doubt isn’t an issue of not hearing, it’s an issue of not knowing and, as a result, not trusting.

If you don’t really KNOW Him, then of course you’ll start to doubt that He put you on this path when it doesn’t go the way you think it should. The key is knowing, deep in the fabric of your soul, that how the journey goes isn’t a validation—or invalidation—of God’s call.

We’re called to follow a suffering Savior, so you can be sure there will be difficulties and suffering. But we endure because He’s there with us. And we don’t take a detour unless it’s clear, deep in our soul, that He is the one telling us to do so.

Solutions to doubt

Focus on humility and learning God’s way (not OUR way) and trust that He IS leading you

  • We did a podcast about humility that you can listen to.
  • “He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them His way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep His covenant and obey His decrees.” Psalm 25:9-10
  • Learning God’s way helps you maintain passion. He will astound you as you encounter Him.
  • “It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is filled with His glory!’ Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke…Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?’ I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.’” Isaiah 6:1-4; 8

Do a study on what happened when people in the Bible heard God and obeyed

  • Was the path He set them on easy?
  • Did they stay the course without constant confirmation?

Focus on distinguishing God’s voice from others

  • “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave…'” 1 Kings 19:11-13
  • Learn to listen rather than talk

Find a mentor or a group of believers with whom you can discuss your faith journey

  • We often get to know God better by sharing our faith journeys with each other.

Follow the orders you’ve been given until you get new orders

  • Did you ever think about what a big, long, difficult task it was for Noah to build the ark? Scholars say around 100-120 years. That’s much longer than writing a book, or even a whole writing career.
Assurance through doubt

The beauty of all of this is that once you really get to know God, to recognize how He speaks to His sheep and leads them, you can move forward in freedom, knowing that if He doesn’t want you on a particular path, He’ll let you know. If He hasn’t done so, then all you need to do is stay the course. Take it a step at a time, and trust that Almighty God, who loves you better than you can ever know, is with you, guiding you, using you, and bringing His will about in you.

We want to hear from you

What gives you confidence that you’re hearing God correctly?


Did God really ask you to be a writer? Erase your doubts with our latest podcast!

Doubt isn’t an issue of not hearing God, it’s an issue of not knowing Him and, as a result, not trusting.

Please share!

057 – The Rhythm of Prayer with Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler on the Write from the Deep podcast The Rhythm of PrayerDo you understand that prayer is the most powerful tool you have in your arsenal as a person, let alone as a writer? So why, in today’s world, does prayer seem to be the most undervalued gift we can give each other—and ourselves? Writer, agent, speaker, disk jockey, and pastor Bob Hostetler joins us to discuss the importance of prayer to our writing, and how we can dwell in prayer and communion with God.

About Bob…

Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, pastor, and speaker from southwestern Ohio. He’s written forty-seven books, including eleven written with Josh McDowell. He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award, among others. Bob is also a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats.

Bob was ordained to the ministry in 1980 by The Salvation Army. He and his wife, the lovely Robin, served in The Salvation Army from 1980-1992.

He has been a disc jockey, pastor, magazine editor, freelance book editor, and (with his wife Robin) a foster parent to ten boys (though not all at once).

Key takeaways

What the deep means to Bob…

I can’t help but think of the verse of Scripture “deep calls to deep”…Of course scholars debate what in the world that means. For me it reflects the depth of personal experience. I think when God calls us through deep waters, through deep experiences, life-changing sometimes crippling experiences, that happens at a place in us that then becomes a place of witness as well. People who’ve experienced great grief and hurt and trouble in their lives often have a ministry to others who were going through something like that. For me the deep is that place of unutterable experience, that often God allows us to go to so that we meet Him there.

“O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:6-8

Bob’s transformative prayer journey…

The dirty little secret of my pastoring life was that I hadn’t always been the man of prayer that I wanted to be. I tried, but it wasn’t until about 25 years ago, when I made my first visit to the Abbey of Gethsemane, that I discovered the deep, to echo your theme. That experience took me to a place in prayer that I’ve never been before. I’d decided I would bite the bullet and enter into the rhythm of prayer hours at the monastery for the first 24 hours without making any promises of doing anything beyond that. After 24 hours of silence and doing the prayer routine with the monks, I got my food for lunch, sat down, and when I went to fold my hands over my lunch to say grace, it brought me up short because I realized I was already praying. Just 24 hours into the rhythm of that community, I was no longer entering and exiting times of prayer. I was just in a constant slow dance with God, a constant conversation. So that’s what changed my prayer life, my ministry, and eventually what changed my writing as well. Because I wanted more of that. I wanted to stay in or repeat that deep place that I’d gone to.

Prayer infected the rest of life for me. My life, instead of becoming a life that I tried to inject prayer into, it became a prayer that I tried to inject life into.

On why we struggle to pray…

For me, as a victim of 21st century life, at least in Western culture, I think we’ve accepted a pace and a routine, and a way of doing life that somewhere along the line we didn’t have to except. While I love modern conveniences, we’ve allowed ourselves to accept routines and paces that we don’t have to. That’s why my time at the monastery was so transformative. It was the silence and the solitude and the, by design, the lack of hurry at the monastery that changed everything.

We’re constantly go, go, go. One day, one week, one month leads to another and we don’t have the silence or solitude or pace that allows God to be heard through it all.

The entire ebb and flow of our lives, at least in Western culture, is not something that lends itself to communion with God.

The value of prayer…

In church on Sunday my pastor Ron King said, “Prayer is the most underrated gift in today’s world.”

The danger of hurry…

Eugene Peterson wrote that hurry is the pastor’s enemy. I extrapolate that to say it’s also true of the writing life. Hurry is poison to the writers soul. Not just hurry as I’m writing, but hurry to get into writing, hurry to get out of writing. Hurry and the busyness—that’s what prevents me from praying. If I just plop into my writing chair and expect to bang out a few thousand words—that looks way different than when I begin with prayer, and proceed with prayer, and end with prayer.

How to turn to prayer in the midst of deadline panic…

Distraction is poison to the writer’s soul. Panic is also poison to the writer’s soul. The more I sweat a piece, the more I’m focused on the deadline or whatever has got me in a lather rather than focused on God and His provision and His presence and what He may possibly want to accomplish through this thing that I’m writing. Then the less I’m able to focus and the less creative I can become. My tendency is to do it in my own strength. To go in the strength of Bob. God has to remind me how unwise that is.

The myth of being “prayed up”

My routine is morning and evening prayer, and sometimes when I’m hungriest in the middle of the day. But that doesn’t mean everything I’m writing has been prayed over. I may still come to my desk and try to pound it out in my own strength. But God reminds me that I need Him and His creativity and His inspiration. The whole concept of manna is an object lesson in our daily and moment by moment need for God. I’m constantly learning and relearning that.

Finding your prayer rhythm…

We don’t all have the same prayer rhythm, we don’t have the same routine in our lives. Each of us has a unique personality. The challenge is not in doing what Bob does, or Karen, or Erin. It’s not imitation, its it’s figuring out what is my rhythm. How can I best bring not prayer into my life but life into prayer. How can I achieve a rhythm so that my writing becomes a prayer itself. So that prayer is not a part of my writing, but my writing is a part of my prayer life. I think that looks different for everybody. Give some thought to the patterns and pace of your own life. If you think of prayer as a dance with God when can you join the dance? Whatever your patterns lend themselves to, find a way so that your writing and your prayer become a part of the dance together until one becomes indistinguishable from the other.

Books and websites referenced…

Bob’s blog post: Your First Writing Assignment


Books by Eugene Peterson

The Contemplative Pastor

The Message


Have you found your prayer rhythm? What helps you stay in that rhythm?


Hurry is poison to the writer’s soul!

Have you found your prayer rhythm?

Please share!

056 – Is Your Humility True or False?

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast Is Your Humility True or False

“Thank GOD I’m so humble.” Do you know anyone who seems to think this about himself?  Ever catch yourself thinking that? Well, then it’s time to take a hard look at what is true—and false—humility. Especially when it comes to promoting your books…

As Christians, we’re told to be humble. As writers, we’re told we need a platform. We’re told we need to promote ourselves and our books. How do we reconcile those two things? What about awards? Is it right to want to win a writing award? Gain bestselling status? What about when we’re writing a proposal or talking to a prospective editor or agent? Or other writers? Or readers? We don’t want to be tooting our own horn, but we don’t want to give the impression we have nothing to offer.

What exactly IS humility and how does that work for writers?

First, let’s give you a new perspective. Promotion isn’t about you. It’s about God. We’ll talk more about that as we go.

What is humility?

A Psychology Today article had this to say about humility: “The humble person keeps her accomplishments, gifts, and talents in a proper perspective…”

That last bit is the key. “In a proper perspective.” It’s not saying accomplishments, gifts, and talents are bad. But you have to understand where they come from. Who gave them to you? Who gets the glory for those things?

  • Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
  • Humility is understanding that our talents, our achievements, come from God, and they’re meant to bring glory to Him, not us. This is part of what we mean when we say promotion isn’t about you. It’s about God.

The Psychology Today article goes on to say: “…humble individuals are also oriented towards others, they value the welfare of other people…”

  • Philippians 2:3 echoes that idea of valuing others: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
  • 1 Peter 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

We need to ask ourselves what our purpose is in this writing task. Is it about us?

Are we doing this to serve or are we doing this because we’ve always wanted to be an author and sell lots of books?

Jesus is our model for serving with humility.

  • Matthew 20:25-28 “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
  • Why did He do this? Because He loved us. He valued us. Let this be our motivation too.
  • Whether you write greeting cards, devotionals, or sci-fi thrillers, serve your readers with humility because you care about them, you respect them, you value them, and yes, you love them.

God gets the glory for that, because we’re reflecting God’s glory and grace when we love others and imitate God by walking in love.


What is False Humility?

This is a heart issue. It’s when you put on the cloak of humility, but in reality, your ego is at work making sure people know how humble you are.

  • Matthew 6:1-5 in The Message says, “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good (or humble) so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.”

Signs that you’re giving in to false humility when you’re doing promotion

  • When you make a performance out of “being humble”
  • When it’s done for any audience other than God
  • When you’re pretending like you’re stepping out of the spotlight, but in reality, you make sure the spotlight follows you
  • One example is constantly slipping in references to your accomplishments: “Even though I’ve written 80 books, I struggle with that sense of not being good enough…” What would show true humility? Something like, “Those feelings that you’re not good enough are always there…” Then turn the conversation to how God deals with that struggle. The focus is on God, not on you and your accomplishments.

Low self-esteem is NOT humility

  • Pastor Marty Brown’s definition: It’s not thinking more highly, OR more lowly of yourself than you ought. It’s accepting what God says about you without argument.
  • Some of us may struggle with low self esteem. That’s not humility. God says you’re fearfully and wonderfully made and that you’re valuable to Him. Christ was willing to die for you because He loved you. He valued you.
  • C.S. Lewis says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” That goes back to valuing others and being outwardly focused.


Why is humility a desirable trait?

The same Psychology Today article mentioned these benefits of humility: “Interestingly, the empirical research on humility shows that this trait has great value. Humility has been linked with better academic performance, job performance, and excellence in leadership. Humble people have better social relationships, avoid deception in their social interactions, and they tend to be forgiving, grateful, and cooperative. A recent set of studies also shows that humility is a consistent predictor of generosity.”

What does God say about humility, and why it’s desirable?

  • Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
  • Proverbs 22:4 “True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.”
  • 1 Peter 5:5 “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”


How writers can practice humility

Listen to others

  • Don’t listen so you can talk. Listen so you can get to know that person.
  • Ask questions. Understand them. Hear what’s underneath what they’re saying and think about how you can meet their needs.

Don’t use being “humble” as an excuse for not doing your job, which is promotion

  • Don’t worry about being a bestselling author. Focus interviews and promotion on talking about God and why you felt led to write this book. Talk about your own struggle. Be transparent and authentic.
  • Focus on marketing with excellence, but leave the results in God’s hands.
  • Promotion doesn’t equate with pride or thinking more of yourself than you should. For writers, promotion is serving the readers who need your book. Remember, it’s really not about you or “your” book, it’s about letting people know about a message God breathed into you for your readers’ benefit.

How do you communicate your ability with humility when speaking with prospective agents, editors, or readers?

  • Let your writing speak for itself. Don’t tell someone you’re an excellent writer, even if you have 5 star reviews on Amazon. Let people judge your writing for themselves.
  • What you want to do instead is communicate your passion. Why are you writing what you’re writing? What excites you about it? Talk about the reasons why you can’t NOT write this.

How do you build your platform with humility?

  • Don’t focus on building your platform. That’s about you. Focus instead on connecting with those you can help. That focus is on the readers.
  • Engage people with your passion, with your message. Doing that with all your heart is what matters. It’s up to God to determine the level or size of your platform.

Should you try to win awards?

First, you should write the best book you can. Always. That’s the focus.

  • Don’t enter a contest to stroke your ego, or because you need someone to tell you your writing is good, or because you need validation, or to boast.
  • But awards can sometimes be useful for promotion – to help people find out about the book and/or to help build your reputation for writing your message. This may be useful to you as an indie or hybrid author. Also, many publishers enter their authors’ books in contests.
  • However, Karen doesn’t think entering contests on your own is a wise thing to do for your heart. She’s seen writers struggle with hurt, rejection, even resentment and envy when they don’t win. Don’t put yourself in the position to be tempted.
  • Bottom line: contests are a danger area. Search your heart. Don’t enter if it’s going to bring a challenge to you in terms of comparison, or begrudging someone else. Make sure you can do this to honor your publisher and honor God first.

If you do win an award, should you post on social media?

  • Yes you should post, because it’s an award to your publisher too
  • But focus on thanking those who gave you the award, on the readers, and on those who helped bring the book to publication
Final thoughts on humility

Exercise trust and patience in this whole process: 1 Peter 5:6 “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.” Do your work in humility. Trust Him to do what He wants to do with you and your career.

Finally, be prayerful. True humility is a gift from God. Being able to be truly humble comes from Him. It doesn’t come out of the motivations of the human heart. It’s too conflicted and too full of the need to be acknowledged. We need to submit that heart to God, submit all those places where we feel inadequate, submit all the things that could be translated into false humility. Surrender all those things on His altar. Your desire to be recognized, your desire to be a bestseller. Put all of that on the altar and tell Him, “Do with me, do with my career, what You will.” Whatever comes your way, you will know it comes from Him. And you will know that you’ve found and embraced humility because your response will be gratitude. And your response will be to put the spotlight on Him.


We want to hear from you

What helps you distinguish true humility from false humility?


How do writers practice humility?

Is your humility true or false?

Please share!

055 – Stop Settling for Superficial Writing

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast, Stop Settling for Superficial WritingAre you just skimming the surface of the story God’s given you to write? If so, you’re doing your readers a disservice. Unless your writing comes from the depths of who you are, of your own journey, it’ll lack power and resonance. Dig deep when you write, and your words will not just entertain, but change lives.

Last week we talked about how we need to stop settling for a superficial life. If you haven’t heard that episode, we encourage you to go listen. We live in a superficial world, and our brains are even getting re-wired for superficiality rather than depth of thought, and we’re drawn more and more into superficial online relationships. This is a perfect setup for superficial writing, because there’s no way to write well when you don’t even know who you are.

What is writing from the deep? 

It’s about our character steeped in God:

  • as we navigate the trials and joys of the publishing industry
  • as we follow God in obedience
  • as we create with God, not FOR God. (Because He doesn’t need us to accomplish His purposes.) Acts 17:24-25 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”
  • as we serve our readers whoever they may be and no matter how many

Through all that, our character matters. We need to honor God and reflect Him in everything we do. That takes constantly, intentionally going deep with God and laying our foundation on His truth.

It’s also about how we dig deep into the topics and themes that we choose to write about.

How do we dig deep in our writing?

It starts with not being superficial ourselves. If we’re not avoiding superficiality in life, how can we avoid it in our writing?

Mine the depths of who you are:

Bob Hostetler quoted NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Rachel Hauck in a blog post, “Write who you are. You can never stop mining the depths of your heart, what you love and believe, your values and passions. I discover something new about myself with each book when I write who I am.”

Mining the depths of who you are happens by asking the hard questions, wrestling with God for the answers, and writing about what you discover through it.

  • Deep questions expose universal truths that touch readers because those truths apply to them as well.
  • In nonfiction, this kind of wrestling over questions is vital. People are asking hard questions, and we can’t give them pat answers.

Mine the depths of emotions on the page:

  • Writing with depth doesn’t shy away from the emotions.
  • Write authentically from your experiences. Don’t hold back!
  • Readers of both fiction and nonfiction want to feel, to experience. Not just the grief, or despair, but the triumph as well.

Practical tips for putting emotions into writing:

  • You are the first measuring stick as you’re writing. If you’re not feeling it, your reader won’t either.
  • If you’re writing nonfiction, don’t let yourself write from a “teacher” perspective, where you hold yourself back from the emotions. It’s not just your words readers need, but your heart.
  • In fiction, this is one area where it’s important to show, rather than tell. Don’t tell us your character is angry. That’s superficial. Paint a picture. SHOW the emotion and how it impacts those around them. Be an observer in your own life and in the lives of those around you. Draw on that to flesh out the emotions and relationships on the page. One specific example of this is with romance novels. You know how it just doesn’t ring true when you have the hero think the heroine is beautiful, and she thinks he’s gorgeous, and then suddenly they’re and love? There has to be more to it than just the physical attributes. What is it in a person that will draw your character? Is it their behavior, their laugh, the way they are with children or animals or the elderly? Dig deep so that it comes out as multi-faceted as love is in real life.
  • With nonfiction, if you realize you’re skimming the surface of how the topic or issue affects you, then dig deeper. Make a list of interactions or events, the things that not only made you aware of the topic but spurred you to write about it. Let your readers know your own struggle and your heart.

In fiction, let your characters either be or become deep, not superficial:

  • This means taking what we should be doing in real life—fostering deep relationships—and putting it into practice in our writing. You need to know your characters deeply.
  • Avoid stereotypes by knowing more than just the basics about your characters. Think of your characters as jewels with a lot of different facets to explore.
  • Let your characters do or think or feel the unexpected. So your villain is a serial killer, but what if he’s also a guy who loves kittens? And the way he chooses his victims is that he sees them being cruel to animals.
  • Nonfiction writers, you need to make sure you know your target readers. You need to know and understand them as well as we in fiction need to know and understand our characters.

In fiction, just as emotion and truths and characters in your books need to be deep, so does the conflict:

  • The driving force of conflict can’t be some misunderstanding that can be cleared up over a cup of coffee.
  • You must be willing to torture your characters. The harder, deeper, and more painful the journey for your characters, the more heroic they are when they conquer.
  • Donald Maas tells writers to make things bad, then make them worse, then make them even worse. Build on the conflict, deepen it as the story advances. Reveal it with the story, being strategic in how you unpack it so the reader will understand it and connect with the character.
  • Require sacrifice. The conflict has to cost something for your character. What hits them where they live? Put your characters in the position of having to make hard choices where they don’t have a good option. Make them have to give up things or people they care about.
  • Nonfiction writers, you can use all of this as well. Use strategic examples/illustrations that will draw emotion from your readers. Stories of you or those you know (or those who’ve shared their stories with you) written with fiction tools, so that you show emotion and impact.

The bottom line:

This is all just scratching the surface of deeper writing, not because we’re being superficial, but because this podcast would be hours long if we explored all the elements of it! What we wanted to do was just get you pointed in the right direction. Dig deep. Be vulnerable. Write from who you are and the real-life joys, delights, struggles, and trials. Remember the old saying, “Nothing is wasted in a writer’s life.” It’s all fodder for going deep in your writing. All you have to do is be willing to open up.

We want to hear from you!

How do you go deep in your own writing?


Writers, be warned! You can’t afford to be superficial.

Please share!

054 – Stop Settling for a Superficial Life

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast - Stop Settling for a Superficial LifeuperficialHave you noticed the trend toward superficiality in our world today? We’re easily bored, our attention spans keep shrinking, and we have a steady stream of superficial input from media. It’s a mile wide and an inch deep. We’re more apt to react to what we see on social media and type off a quick response, or click a thumbs up button and move on to the next video flashing at us. Before we know it, an hour, or two, or more, has passed, and all we’ve been doing is wading in the shallows.

Why is superficiality a problem? For one thing, it creates isolation (we talked about that in episode #50, The Danger of Isolation). We’ve been made in the image of God. He gave us a brain with the ability to think, to enjoy beauty, to appreciate the wonder of God. He created us for relationship, for fellowship. We’re selling ourselves short of what God intends us to be and what He intends for His body.

Why is superficiality so common?

1. It takes time to go deep – time we don’t feel we have

  • We live busy lives with many expectations. We’re constantly in a rush
  • We live in an increasingly instant society where there is no patience for delay
  • We’re constantly forced to multitask, which weakens our ability to process deeply
  • We increasingly engage and depend on online relationships, which promotes weak ties rather than strong ties that better foster support and emotional development

2. Our digital world is changing our brains

  • The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr says, “A search engine often draws our attention to a particular snippet of text, a few words or sentences that have strong relevance to whatever we are searching for at the moment, while providing little incentive for taking in the work as a whole. We don’t see the forest when we search the web. We don’t even see the trees. We see twigs and leaves.”
  • Reading a book uses visual processing, memory, and language. Internet surfing uses those, but adds decision-making and problem-solving areas. You’re always faced with hyperlinks that make it easy to flit from one topic to the next. It forces you to multitask, and Carr says that impedes comprehension and retention. Bottom line: You have to work really hard to read and retain something on the Internet. When we don’t have time to process what we’re reading, it doesn’t stick.
  • Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on our Brains by Susan Greenfield says about the effects of digital technology, “…our attention spans shrink, deeper thinking declines and interpersonal bonds wither.” She also says, “The digital revolution exploits our biological propensity for mindlessness.”

3. We don’t go deep because there is a cost

  • Dropping masks is counter cultural in our world where appearances count, where you’re supposed to act like you have all the answers. But we’re not meant to hide our true selves in the dark. God’s Word tells us in 1 John 1:5-8 “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Going deep requires vulnerability. It makes us uncomfortable and opens us up to rejection.
  • Going deep can be extremely painful, not just because of rejection but because we may need to go deep into our own pain in order to heal from wounds we’ve concealed rather than healed from.

4. Going deep forces us to ask some hard questions of ourselves

    • What if I don’t like who I am deep down? What if I’m really a lousy person?
    • What if I discover I don’t truly care about things I SHOULD care about?
    • What if, deep down, I start to wonder if I really even believe in God? Or don’t trust Him, or don’t know Him?
    • These things ARE true in our flesh, but God is in the business of transforming us through His Spirit, not in our own power. It’s a transformation from the inside out.
    • Jesus had some harsh words for those who ignore the deep down issues, or pretend they’re something they’re not when He was addressing the Pharisees. Matthew 23:27 “…Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” But God wants us to explore what’s deep inside us so He can clean us from the inside out.

Practical Solutions

  1. Pray for a willingness and ability to get out of the shallows, to escape the trivial. Pray that we can set our minds on deeper things, on things that please God, on how He sees us and the people around us.
  2. Schedule distraction-free time to go deep, both with God and with people. Commit to that time. Make it intentional.
    • Evaluate your friendships. Which ones can you cultivate to be deep? Which ones lead you into superficiality?
    • Evaluate your activities. Which ones cultivate deeper thinking, deeper relationships?
  3. Schedule time with yourself. Time for reflection. Time to evaluate your day, your life. Time to reflect on the sermon at church, or your Bible study, or the Scripture you’re memorizing. Don’t skim the surface.
  4. Be the one to take the risk. To drop the mask. To be vulnerable. It’s so freeing. Don’t miss out on that freedom!
  5. Brave the pain of going deeper yourself. We want to avoid that pain, but often true healing is found at the other end.
  6. Brave the pain of others’. Be with them. You don’t have to have all the answers. You have to be willing to listen. To give them a safe place to be real and vulnerable.
We Want to hear from you!

What helps you fight against superficiality in your life?


Are you living a superficial life? It’s time to stop!

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053 – Can I Trust God? Part 2

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Can I Trust God, part 2, Write from the Deep podcast Trust is hard. Even with God. Sometimes it’s especially hard with God. It’s not that we don’t believe He’s trustworthy, it’s just that we can’t surrender ourselves to that trust. But there’s a wonderful reward when you do so, and that’s immeasurable peace. So let us help you discover what’s holding you back, and how to start trusting today!

In our last episode we talked about how trust has two parts, there’s the action on our part—believing, relying, depending, hoping. And a qualifier about who or what we trust in. The reliability, truthfulness, ability, or strength of what we’re hoping in, what we’re placing confidence in. And we tackled the latter side of the issue first: Is God trustworthy?

Our answer? A definitive YES.

Today we’ll talk about our side of the bargain. If God IS trustworthy, are WE able to act on that? Are we able to do the trusting? How do we know?

Signs that you’re not trusting God

  • Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Lack of peace
  • Taking back something you’ve “surrendered”
  • Not obeying God

What builds the obstacles inside of us that hold us back from truly trusting God? The simple answer is fear.

We’re afraid we won’t like how God will handle something. That those who deserve to be punished won’t be, or that those who deserve great rewards won’t get them, or that those who are hurt and sick won’t be healed physically.

We put our expectations of timeline, of how things should happen, on God. But remember who sees all, from beginning to end? That’s not us, folks. That’s God and God alone.

When you trust God, really trust Him, you surrender the situation and yourself and walk away. Trust means giving something to God and then not thinking about it again until you see His answer. No matter how it comes, and no matter how long it takes. (Another resource to help you with this aspect of trusting is episode 47: Is God Really Good?)

So why is true trust in God so important?

Trust changes everything.

The Fruit of Trust


Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17:7-8


Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  Romans 8:1-2


If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.  John 15:10-11


Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.  Proverbs3:5-6 (the Message)


This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength…”  Isaiah 30:15

Future reward

For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for His children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.  1 Peter 1:4-5

How do we develop trust?

We learn to trust by trusting. There is no magic formula.

  • Be in communication with God about both how we’re trusting and what we’re struggling to trust Him with
  • Purpose to dwell on God’s proven dependability and not on our fears
  • Set up Ebenezers – Stones of Help – to remind us of what God has done in our life and writing journey

Scriptural examples of Ebenezers or markers:

He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”  Joshua 4:21-24

The Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”  1 Samuel 7:10

Final words

The moment you start to dwell on obstacles or fear, remember and praise God instead for what He has done in the past. Remember your Ebenezers, your markers. Then praise Him for what He’s doing now, tell Him what you’re trusting Him with now. And tell Him where you’re struggling and ask for help. And when you surrender it to Him, HANDS OFF!

Then move into the day in faith!


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What Ebenezers do you have from your own writing journey?



Trust is hard. Even with God. Discover what’s holding you back from fully trusting today!

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052 – Can I Trust God? Part 1

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young, Can I Trust God, part 1     It’s easy to say we trust God, but do we really? True trust means no worry, no taking back what you surrendered. True trust means peace. No matter what.

In our last episode, Ginny Yttrup joined us to talk about surrendering to God, and in the comments on the post we talked about how hard surrender can be and one of the things Ginny posted was: “Surrender is a walk of trust.” She nailed it. One short little sentence, very big idea. Because what she was saying was trusting is a prerequisite of surrendering. How can you surrender anything to God if you don’t deep in your gut trust Him?

We all THINK we trust God, but if we do, why do we worry, fret, take back what we’ve surrendered? Why do we struggle to find peace?

What is trust?
  • New Oxford American Dictionary: “To believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of”
  • New Oxford American Dictionary: “Have faith or confidence”
  • Webster “To rely on the truthfulness or accuracy of”
  • Webster “To place confidence, depend, hope”

If we’re talking about trusting God, we have to ask: Is God trustworthy?

Can we hope in Him?

Rely on Him?

Is He strong enough to do what He says He’ll do?

Sure it’s easy to say He is…on the surface, but what about the deep places? We talk on this podcast about the deep having different meanings, and often we talk about the place of struggle, but the deep is also a place of deep relationship with God. Deep abiding. Deep knowing. Deep communing. Deep…trust. If we want that kind of relationship with God, then we better settle the question in the deepest part of our being. Is God trustworthy? Because that’s going to affect everything going forward.

Is He trustworthy/truthful?

How do you decide? You look at what He says and does. What’s His track record?

Moses, at the end of his life, before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the promised land, reviews for them everything God had done. He gives them their history so that they can remember God’s track record.

  • The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”   Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Joshua does the same thing at the end of his life:

  •  “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”  Joshua 23:14

And God is still keeping His promises, like the promise of sending us a savior in Jesus:

  • “From [David’s] descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as He promised.”  Acts 13:23

So the evidence in Scripture proves that God is trustworthy, but what about strength?

Is He strong enough to do what He says?

Daniel chapter 3 talks about Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego in the furnace in Babylon:

  • Nebuchadnezzar makes a big statue and forces everyone to worship it, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse, and they’re brought before Nebuchadnezzar who’s furious at this rebellion.
  • He gives them a final chance and the consequences: “…if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Nebuchadnezzar challenges God.
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed God was strong enough. They stood up to an angry king and said, “…the God we serve is able to deliver us …”
  • They’re thrown into the hot fire, but they don’t die. Instead they’re walking around in the furnace. Nebuchadnezzar says, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
  • Nebuchadnezzar, a polytheistic pagan who believes in many gods, claims this God is the highest among them all. He concedes God’s dominance. ”I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”


Can we hope in God?

In 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah face an attack from a vast army:

  • “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
  • Jehoshaphat stands up in the assembly amidst everyone and prays to God. “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…”
  • He goes on about how God said if His people cry out to Him, He will hear and save them.
  • He finishes the prayer by saying, “Oh God, will you not judge them…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you…”
  • They don’t run around preparing for battle. They stand before the Lord…and wait.
  • God answers them through one of the prophets and says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…”
  • They worship God and obey Him. They go out the next morning praising God, and Jehoshaphat reminds them again to have faith. And they see God’s deliverance.
  • God causes the different armies to slay each other and they all die. Israel doesn’t have to fight at all. They go down into the desert and collect the plunder, so much that it takes 3 days. And they have another celebration praising God.

God’s track record is impeccable. The point of these things being written in Scripture was exactly so we could have the hope and trust we need now.

  • Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”


When we believe God is trustworthy, it glorifies Him.

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”  Romans 15:8-9


How do we build trust?

Take Jehoshaphat’s example:

1) Look to God first: focus on Him first, not the problem, not your weakness. Focus on God and who He is.

  • Acknowledge who God is – His sovereignty, strength, might. He’s capable.
  • Acknowledge what He’s done in the past – He’s proven His trustworthiness. Confess the ways He’s shown that to you.
  • Acknowledge the promises He’s made to you

2) Pray:

  • Confess your situation, your problem
  • Confess your dependence on Him and your willingness to trust in Him
  • Watch. Listen. Keep focusing on God.

3) Respond:

  • When you listen and He tells you to do something, do it
  • Praise Him while you do what He’s commanded


Benefits of trust

  • Peace. “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3, Amplified version.
  • Steadfastness.  “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” Psalm 125:1
  • Joy. Psalm 33:21 “In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.”
  • Blessing. Psalm 52:8 “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”


We want to hear from you!

What promises has God fulfilled in your life?



It’s easy to say we trust God, but do we really?
How to know God is trustworthy

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Surrender in the Deep with Author Ginny Yttrup

Surrender in the Deep with Ginny Yttrup

51 – Surrender in the Deep with Author Ginny Yttrup

We’ve heard it over and over: “Don’t give up!” “Never surrender!” But the truth for writers is that surrender isn’t necessarily a bad move. In fact, as author Ginny Yttrup shows us, it’s the absolute best move when your journey takes you into the deep.


Ginny L. Yttrup is an award-winning author of five novels including her latest, Home, which released earlier this month. She writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys exploring the issues everyday women face. Publishers Weekly dubbed Ginny’s work “as inspiring as it is entertaining.” When not writing, Ginny coaches writers, critiques manuscripts, and designs websites for authors. To learn more about Ginny and her work, visit ginnyyttrup.com or wordsforwriters.net.


What the Deep means to Ginny…

My immediate response, the first word that comes to mind is suffering. But then I thought it’s so much more than that. There’s a negative connotation to that, and for me the deep isn’t always a negative place. It’s a place of growth. It’s the place where I may not want to be, but where the best things happen. It’s the place that God has used the most in my life. When I’m not in a deep place – a place that I consider that place of growth – life is shallow. I don’t live well in the shallow end. I get really bored there. I feel stagnant there. The deep is where I most want to live, but it’s a little bit of a paradox. I want to be there, but I don’t.


The journey as a writer…

I was an avid reader growing up. As a child, books were my safe place. They became my protection, in a sense, from a traumatic childhood. I just loved books. And most of what I know about writing, I learned through reading as a child and through my adult years. When I was in my late twenties or early thirties, small children at home, I got the bug to try to write something myself. But I had absolutely no idea how to do that. I was a horrible student in school, barely graduated from high school, took a couple of college classes and realized that was not going to work for me either. So the idea of trying to learn to write was pretty intimidating. But someone told me about the Mount Hermon Writers conference. That was in California, so it was an easy drive for me. I took a leap of faith, signed up, and attended my first writers conference 25 years ago. That week on that campus I found people who were like me. And I didn’t talk to any of them. But I watched them. I observed, and I just knew this was where God was leading me.

I continued attending for many years and met Karen five years into my journey…Before I met Karen, I attended a workshop she taught on passion, and that particular week I ended up very, very sick with a sinus infection. I didn’t sleep much during the conference, and in the middle of the night, reading God’s Word, I felt like the Spirit whispered to me, “Someday you’ll work with Karen Ball.”

I continued to pursue nonfiction for ten more years. And when I finally started writing fiction, I emailed Karen my page, the only page I had written. And she said, “Keep going.”

Several years later, when that manuscript finally sold, it sold to B & H publishing, and Karen Ball was the acquisition’s editor.


On surrendering…

Surrender is the idea of giving the situation, the circumstance, the desire, the dream, whatever it is that you’re holding, giving that over to someone else. Letting someone else have control of that dream of publication and pursuing a career as a writer. And that’s hard to do when we’ve let ourselves dream of something and we’ve pursued it with passion. To let go of it can be a very painful experience. Because I do believe surrender is letting go. It’s letting go of the end result. Letting go of not necessarily our pursuit, but our management.

It was a breaking point for me. Often times I think God allows us to reach that point of brokenness so that we will surrender to Him. Surrendering was an act of turning over the end result and allowing God to take control. He was the one leading me down this path, and wherever that took me, I would trust Him.

That point of brokenness came in my writing journey more than once. For example, at about the ten year mark, after pursuing publication, learning the craft, honing my craft, continuing to learn about publishing, and being rejected one more time. That particular rejection, that breaking point, was a very painful process. It wasn’t done tenderly. It was during the Writer’s conference, and I just fell apart, saying to God, “I can’t do this any longer.” At that point, I did give up. It was ugly tears, it was anger, all that stuff that comes with rejection. But by the next morning, I had made the shift. Rather than giving up, I gave it over. Handed the dream to God and said, “I recognize that You’re in control and that You’re sovereign, and I will continue to trust You in this journey.”


About pain…

I read nowhere in Scripture where we’re told God will protect us from pain. I pray for that, I beg God for that daily, I ask Him to protect my children, those that I love, my health. God never promised to protect us from pain, but He provides for us in the midst of our pain. In fact He does promise that we will encounter trials, suffering, and pain, but in the midst of that we experience His provision of peace, of hope, of strength when we’ve come to the end of our own strength. In our weakness, He is our strength.


Final words of wisdom…

Surround yourself and stay in community with other writers. Build a strong community. Stay connected because we are all in this together. This isn’t a competition. We, especially as Christian writers, are unified as a body and that needs to be true in our writing communities…We need to be encouraging each other and celebrating each other. Stick together.


Books mentioned on the show

Home, Ginny’s latest release…

What happens when a novelist, struggling with the unfulfilled desires met at midlife, escapes into the fiction she writes?

Home by Ginny Yttrup


Words, Ginny’s award-winning debut novel…

A child whose silence holds the truth captive… An artist whose work speaks the agony of her past… Will they let the truth set them free?

Words by Ginny Yttrup


You can find Ginny Yttrup’s guest blog post – Five Lessons from the Road to Publication – on the Steve Laube Agency Blog.


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What has God taught you through surrender?



Surrender isn’t always a bad move, especially when your writing journey takes you into the deep! @GinnyYttrup


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The Danger of Isolation

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young The Danger of Isolation

50 – The Danger of Isolation

Have you ever felt alone? Have you been lonely? Do you ever struggle with the sense that there’s no one around that you can go to when you need prayer or just a pal to listen? If so, you’re not the only one! You’re “not alone.” In fact, in the last 10 years or so, studies have shown that our sense of aloneness and loneliness has grown more profound than ever before. So why should we care? Because one of the enemy’s most powerful tools to use against believers, especially those of us who are writers, is isolation.


What are the dangers of isolation?

Studies done in the last 5 years show that isolation isn’t just unhealthy, it’s deadly.

  • Elderly people who don’t have enough social interaction or a strong social connection are twice as likely to die prematurely
  • Social isolation is deadlier for people than obesity
  • When one is socially isolated, the increased mortality rate is equivalent to that of smoking
  • Social media is false interaction. Recent surveys have shown the more time a person spends on social media, the less happy that person tends to be. True social interaction must be done face-to-face.

When you’re isolated the enemy has you one-on-one.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.


When you’re isolated:

  • It’s harder to see truth, easier to be swayed, You don’t have an objective viewpoint to help you see better
  • You don’t have anyone in the fight with you
  • You have no one to give you ideas, help/instruction, or support/encouragement
  • You have no one to challenge your ideas
  • You don’t grow as a result of mixing with people who see things differently (even other religions, etc.)
  • You can become exclusive in your thinking, believing you’re the only one with the right answer
  • You’re more prone to arrogance – not being teachable, as writers this is problematic
  • You may become unwilling to reach out to writers who are “the competition” when in reality you can help each other


Isolation can cause you to form a habit of self-reliance and selfishness, which leads to not depending on God either.

But we were created for community. We’re the BODY of Christ.


Is there anything good about being isolated?

Intentional healthy isolation—let’s call that solitude—can be helpful for…

  • Unplugging for spiritual refreshment, connection to God, prayer, listening, reflecting
  • Focusing on individual skill building or emotional growth
  • Reading and reflecting on what you’ve read
  • Turtle Time: Recharging if you’re an introvert


How can we know if we’ve isolated or if we’re seeking solitude?

Consider this distinction between the two from Psychology Today:

“Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness”

Psychology Today goes on to say, “Solitude is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company. It’s a time for reflection, inner searching or growth or enjoyment of some kind. Thinking and creativity usually require solitude…Loneliness is harsh, punishment, a deficiency state, a state of discontent marked by a sense of estrangement. Solitude restores body and mind. Isolation depletes them.”


Look at the way it feels:

Are you feeling recharged? Refreshed? Ready to take on each day? Do you have a sense of peace? Of savoring the richness of your alone time? Then that’s solitude, an intentional coming away for a limited time.

Are you feeling lonely? Overwhelmed? Depressed? Abandoned? Unloved? Struggling with whatever comes your way during the day? Do you feel like this time of being alone was imposed on you? Or that it’s happened because nobody cares or understands you? Or the result of feeling shamed and unworthy? That’s isolation.


Solitude is something to be cultivated and savored.

Isolation is damaging and a seeming confirmation of our most negative self-talk.


So what if you’ve realized you’re caught up in isolation? Well, there are some practical things you can do to escape it.

  1. Make time with others a priority. Philippians 2: 2-4 says: Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too
  2. See number one. Yes, it’s hard, especially for introverts. This is something you’re going to have to make yourself do. But the hardest part is the first step. The momentum. Tell yourself it doesn’t have to be a long interaction. Phone or video call a friend. Go out for coffee or tea. Ask God to help you take the first step. Then be brave and ask Him if there are groups or activities He wants you involved in.
  3. Recognize there are other people whose life and faith journeys are different from your own. Be willing to listen, to hear their hearts. Let them challenge and refine you, always adhering, though, to what God shows you is truth. As Proverbs 12:15 says: Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.
  4. Stop wearing masks. Live authentically and honestly, letting people see you for who you are.
  5. Find allies (we’ll be doing a whole online course on this in the future!). Join a writers group. Start a mastermind or brainstorming group. Or reading group. Or prayer or accountability or whatever. Be the one to reach out.



It’s okay to have time alone. In fact, it’s often a necessary part of our work as writers and our faith journey. But the enemy loves to slip in and move us beyond that helpful kind of alone time into the dangerous territory of isolation. We need to open ourselves to God’s leading and discernment. To ask Him if we’re caught in isolation. And if He shows us we are, then it’s time to act. To get outside of ourselves and embrace the wisdom and call of Hebrews 10:24-25: Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.


We want to hear from you!

What helps you steer clear of the danger of isolation?



Sometimes it’s good to be alone. Sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes it’s downright deadly!

Please share!

Mesu Andrews Shares How to Deal with Chronic Pain

Mesu Andrews shares how to deal with chronic pain on Write from the Deep

49 – Mesu Andrews Shares How to Deal with Chronic Pain

Few things can derail our lives like chronic pain. It invades every aspect of who we are and what we do, especially as writers. If you’ve found yourself wrestling with chronic pain, or any chronic struggle, come join the discussion with biblical novelist Mesu Andrews as she shares her writing journey with pain as a constant companion. The truths and wisdom she shares will lift your heart.


Show Notes

Mesu Andrews’ deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for her readers. She and her husband, Roy, live in a log cabin snuggled into the beautiful Appalachian Mountains with their dog, Zeke. The Andrews’ have two married daughters and a small tribe of grandkids. Mesu loves movies, football, waterfalls, and travel. Biblical fiction is her favorite genre to read and write. Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell, 2011), tells the story of Job and won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year for a Debut Author. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) relates the poetic Song of Solomon in story form, and Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) sets the story of Hosea and Gomer in biblical Israel. In the Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) displays God’s sovereignty over Jezebel’s daughter, Queen Athaliah. The Pharaoh’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2015), the first in The Treasures of the Nile series, unveils Moses’ early years through the eyes of his Egyptian mother, and Miriam (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2016), the second book in the series, introduces Yahweh’s prophetess during the ten plagues and the Exodus as she struggles to trust this God she doesn’t understand.


What the deep means to Mesu…

The deep has so many meanings. I love the water, I love the ocean. It’s so powerful to me. I was in my twenties before I ever saw the ocean. And I remember being just so afraid when I saw it. It was so powerful, so awesome. So, the deep is not just a dark place, it’s also a powerful place. It’s where I find God… and His power to work through me, sometimes at my weakest. The deep is a very intriguing place to me. It can be scary, but it also is a very powerful place that we can write from.


Walking through the fire…

Back in 1996, I got a simple virus. I had a 102 temperature for about six days and when that temperature broke, my symptoms didn’t really go away. Three weeks later I was still having those same symptoms and had been to the doctor repeatedly. He didn’t really know what was going on. Back in 1996, that was way before fibromyalgia became the fad disease of the 90’s. It took me a year of many, many doctors, some of them who said, “It’s all in your head.” Others told me, “Yeah, you probably have sin in your life.” I finally got to one guy who poked on those eighteen little touch points that give you the diagnosis.

By 2002, busy pastor’s wife, two teenage girls, my husband was a full-time student… I was doing a speaking ministry. I was traveling quite frequently, at least twice a month. Life had gotten busy again. In July of 2002, I woke up on a July morning and I couldn’t move my arms and legs, had a hard time breathing. All I could do was say, “Help.” They got me to the doctor. He had no idea what was going on. Tests again, doctors shaking their heads, scratching their heads don’t know what’s going on. Spent six months in bed…they confirmed fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome. I started having migraines five times a week. By 2005, it was every day. They gave me some medication that has helped with that. I’m not in bed every day, so that’s awesome. We still deal with the migraines daily, but I’m on two preventatives a day. I do a rescue med twice a week and I do one dose of pain meds a day. I usually have till mid-afternoon until the pain gets to where I need to have a little break. But at least I’m not in a fetal position in my bedroom like I was for the first year. But here’s the thing: I no longer have an active speaking ministry. But I never wrote until I was six months in bed. That’s when I started writing. God knows. He has a plan. Was it His plan for me to get sick? I don’t think that was His perfect plan. I don’t think God makes us sick. He can certainly take the worst things that happen in our lives and He can turn them for our good.


Learning to rest in God…

It think it’s a daily and gradual thing. I can wake up today and lose it. I could let myself become discouraged. And I can end up right back in bed. Or I can wake up today and I can decide, “Nope. I’m gonna read my Bible before I pick up my edits.” And take that twenty minutes to read God’s word, to let it soak in, “Okay, what did that mean to David, when God did that in his life? Now, what does that mean for me today?” I have to know what it meant for David before I can know what it means for me. And then, taking that example, and saying, “I serve the exact same God who loves me just as much. And who wants my good.” But here’s the deal: Life is not about the here and now. Life is eternal. It’s about my eternity. It’s not about today. So, what is it today that’s going to make a difference in eternity? The biggest shift in my thinking was: God is good. Period. The end. No discussion.


Journey to writing…

I started out just wanting to have one book in the back of the speaking room so that I could sell that one book for folks to take home after I did my Song of Solomon conference or retreat. So, I go to my first writer’s conference thinking, “I’m gonna get this thing published.” And I was gonna do it in Bible study form, but I was gonna use elements of fiction in it, but it was gonna be a Bible study. And I had three people critique my proposal. The first one looked at me and said, “Wow, you need to stick with speaking because you can’t write.” The next one, she was livid. She yelled at me and said that I was committing heresy. And the third guy said, “Seriously, I would not publish a Bible study by Billy Graham on the Song of Solomon. I am certainly not gonna publish something by a little pastor’s wife in Indiana.” So, that was really a bust. Then I tried to get devotionals published. And I loved the deep stuff. My devotionals were gonna be called DeepOceanals. None of that worked. So, after three years of knocking on doors and having nothing open I went, “Let’s give this fiction thing a try.” Smartest thing I’ve ever done.


Advice for those that have chronic pain…

I think the one thing I did, finally, that made all the difference in the world was that I stopped trying to get published. And I think that’s what it came down to for me. I began writing for an audience of one. I wrote because I couldn’t not write. And I began writing, learning to write, writing better, and writing every day. Not because someone else would see it, but because I needed to write. And I wanted to write because it was what God wanted me to do. And it’s something I needed to do in order to have purpose, in order to fulfill a calling. I really believed it was something God wanted me to do, whether anybody saw it or not. So many times new writers will be so excited to show it to someone right away and it’s just not ready yet. And I think when you can write something and soberly look at it and say, “It’s not ready yet to be seen.” I think at that point, you’re getting closer to the point at which God’s preparing you to publish.


Final words of wisdom…

Put the Lord first. It’s so easy to get distracted. It’s so easy to look at marketing, blogging, and 112 other different things. Before you pick up your computer, pick up your Bible. Spend time, quietly in a corner, before you spend time with other people in a coffee shop. It’s just so important to maintain that one-on-one relationship with your God. Because the other stuff will become hollow if that relationship isn’t solid. If you’re not firmly, firmly planted in that solid foundation, everything else is gonna come tumbling down.


Books we mentioned in this episode…

Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews

Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews

Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job’s life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family? Through painstaking research and a writer’s creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau’s tribe and Jacob’s daughter Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.


We Want to hear from you!

Do you struggle with chronic pain? What helps you cope?



Novelist Mesu Andrews shares the secret to dealing with chronic pain.

Please share!

The Power of Focus

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young The Power of Focus

48 – The Power of Focus

What are you focused on in your writing journey? What’s your focus now? Today? Join us as we explore how much the proper focus can empower and encourage you.


Show Notes

Things move slowly in the writing industry. Like the speed of half-frozen sap. Which means that as writers we’re often waiting for things to happen tomorrow, or a few months from now, or more likely, waaaaaay down the road.

We’re waiting to finish our manuscript. Waiting to hear from our critique partners or beta readers. Waiting to hear from an agent we’ve submitted to.

We’re waiting to hear from an editor. Waiting for a contract. Waiting for a royalty statement.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Or maybe we’re in a season where we can’t write as much as we want to and we’re waiting for that season to be over.

The problem is when we focus on the future we lose sight of the tremendous treasure and importance of today. Too often we place our worth in what we accomplish rather than in who we are in Christ.

As writers, most of what we accomplish can too easily feel tied to what happens down the road, when that book reaches a reader. Or when the next book gets published, or whatever. But God values us today for who He created us to be. He values us simply because He chooses to value us, to delight in us.

  • Zephaniah 3:17 says “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
  • Isaiah 43 says, “For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…you are precious and honored in my sight and…I love you…”


Problems with Focusing on Tomorrow

  1. When we focus on tomorrow, we don’t place enough importance on doing what matters today. Which means we don’t do as good of a job on today’s tasks. We don’t give them the quality attention they need. We’re not in the moment, we’re in the future somewhere. That doesn’t allow us to give our best to what we’re doing right now.
  2. Being too future-focused makes us more easily discontent with today. It opens the door to frustration, complaining, and comparison.
  3. It also opens the door to worry, anxiety, and fear. What if these good things we’re hoping for and waiting for never happen? Or we focus on all the things that can go wrong. So many terrible things we worry about or fear are the things that NEVER happen. Worry eats up our valuable energy and becomes a powerful tool of the evil one to keep us exhausted, or worse, keep us in bondage.
  4. We should say that this also applies when we are stuck in the past instead of focusing on today. We’re hanging on to regrets, frustrations, hurts. That’s just as detrimental.
  5. For those who may be struggling in a deep hard place, in a place of trials, God is giving you––moment by moment––the grace to get through. Moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour. It’s tempting to keep looking for tomorrow when our suffering may end, but we’re missing the beauty of His sustaining grace today. We’re missing that gift in this dark place. We’re missing the opportunity to give Him glory for how He carries us every moment. To bring Him glory by acknowledging our great need for Him. We’re not meant to live apart from Him but in dependence on Him.


Focusing on today helps us:

  • Overcome worry and conquer anxiety about tomorrow
  • Move beyond the scars and bondage from our past
  • Prepare for whatever will happen tomorrow by laying a proper foundation today
  • Make the most of the gift that is today
  • Learn to rest in God’s presence with us today, and in the sufficiency of “daily bread”


Some Solutions

  1. Do what matters most today to make today matter. Little things count. All big things are made up of little things. Yesterday is done. Tomorrow may never come. What if today were your last day alive? We aren’t promised a tomorrow. I’m not saying you run out and do everything on your bucket list today. I’m saying spend some time thinking about what really matters most to you and to God, and do that. As writers, we don’t have to finish the book today to make today matter. We have to write well today.
  2. Obey God, do His will for today. This brings glory to Him, and that’s pretty much our only job. Today we have a relationship with God. We have a God who wants to be with us every moment of every day. Who has promised to care for us and our daily needs. Consider these verses from Matthew 6: “Do not worry about your life… Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…”
  3. Focus on going deeper with God. Dig in with Him every day, every moment. Sometimes we get this idea that we have to move in a forward trajectory, when really moving deeper is what we need instead. It’s not like only one direction matters––God isn’t bound by our sense of direction.
  4. Rest in the worth God has given you simply because He loves you. You don’t earn His love or approval by accomplishing tasks. Micah 6:8, sums it up: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” This is about attitude, about the way you go through life. It’s not a list of tasks to accomplish.
  5. We so often focus on WHAT we do, and don’t spend as much time thinking about HOW we do it. What is our attitude? Are we patient? Are we submissive? Are we filled with grace? Are we merciful? Our character is what’s important, our accomplishments are byproducts of our character. There’s nothing wrong with goals and accomplishments, but they should grow out of what’s important today.


God is blessing us in the here and now with His gifts and His presence, but we miss the good He has for us in that because we’re looking for something that’s going to happen down the road. Imagine how different our life would be if we were simply delighting in Him, in His gifts, in His presence. Let’s make that our focus everyday!


We want to hear from you!

What challenges do you find with focusing on today?
What helps you make today matter?



The proper focus can empower and encourage you on your writing journey!

Please share!

Is God Really Good?

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Is God really Good

47 – Is God Really Good?

There are lies waiting for us in the deep. Lies that strike deep in our souls, spreading through us and misleading us. And one of the most damaging—and dangerous—lies of all is this: “I’m starting to doubt God’s goodness.” Isn’t that a reasonable reaction? After all, aren’t we just being honest when we say that? On the surface, the answers are yes. But sometimes what’s “reasonable” and “honest”…aren’t. Come explore what we’re really saying when we buy into the lie that maybe God isn’t so good after all.


Maybe you’ve heard this prayer, or maybe you prayed it yourself as a child: “God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food.” For such a simple prayer, it contains incredibly important theology. But words sometimes have a way of becoming rote. We speak them and don’t think about what they really deep down truly say.

Today we want to focus on the phrase “God is Good,” because when things go awry in our life, or when they’re hard, or we suffer, or loved ones suffer, It’s easy to question: Is God really good?


What does it take to bring us to that place? What makes people say they doubt God’s goodness?

  • Our prayers aren’t answered when and how we want
  • We find ourselves in difficult circumstances longer than we think we should be there
  • People, especially other believers, hurt us
  • There is so much evil in the world

Oh, the temptation to take hold, to embrace the doubt, to question God’s goodness! Life can be so hard! Overflowing with struggle. Not the “I-can’t-find-a-parking-spot-at-CostCo” kind (as irritating as those may be), but the struggles where home or family or security or life are in peril. Hurt and fear leave us feeling abandoned. And as each blow lands on already bruised places in our spirit, we wonder what God is doing.


Is God still good, even in the deep places? Does being in deep places change His goodness?

It’s okay to struggle. It’s even okay to doubt. But we need to move from doubt to trust that God is who He says He is.

Do we change our God based on circumstances? What do we give more attention to—what’s happening or God’s character as shown to us in Scripture? Do we assign more power to God, or to whatever is assaulting us? Where do we spend our time—struggling and fighting against the assault or seeking God?

When we let ourselves focus on the struggle, when we become steeped in the pain and consequences of whatever is happening, it has a tendency to numb us. Overwhelm us. Is it any wonder, then, that we can’t FEEL God? And because we can’t feel Him we think He isn’t there. And that’s when the doubting…the questions start.

But here’s the thing, friends. While I agree that God is big and powerful enough to handle our doubts, do you understand what you’re really saying when you say you “doubt God’s goodness”? This isn’t just some harmless response to bad times. This is something far more. This is questioning whether God is who He says He is.

When we allow these thoughts—these blatant lies—into our hearts and minds, we’re not just doubting an aspect or behavior of God—we’re questioning God Himself. Think about it. We, the creation, are sticking out our chins and saying to our Creator, “Prove you’re who you say you are.”

Now, I’m not saying this doesn’t seem to be an understandable response. We’re human, and we’re frail, and we can only take so much, right? And it’s not like you’d be the first to do this. Remember good ol’ Job? God lets him talk and ponder and even complain and doubt Him. And then, in Chapter 38, God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind:


Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’


And so it goes for a total of 70 verses, and THEN:

The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!”

Job gets a moment to respond with: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:


Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Will you discredit My justice and condemn Me just to prove you are right? Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like His? All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty.


And on God goes, speaking for another couple of chapters. After all of this truth from Almighty God, Job’s reply in chapter 42 is wonderful:


I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.


Folks, when we say things like we’re doubting God’s goodness, we, like Job, speak out of hearing about Him, but without SEEING Him. We speak without knowledge and understanding of just who God is. And without trusting Him who laid the earth’s foundation, who formed us, who is sovereign over EVERYTHING.

So we want to encourage you in that trust. The trust that God is who He says He is. That He not only does good things, but He IS good. To deny His goodness is to deny He is God. When we do that, we are guilty of exchanging His glory for the glory of something in the image of man.

  • “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”  Romans 1:22-23
  • “‘Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But My people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.  Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,’ declares the Lord. ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.’” Jeremiah 2:11-13


So what’s the truth?

God is good.

Seems like such a cliché. We’re so inclined to just brush that aside. But here’s the thing: God’s truth is profound, and yet it’s also simple. Those three words aren’t a cliche. They’re deep, unchanging, unshakable TRUTH. Consider these definitions of good and the Scriptures that reveal how that relates to God:


  1.  Of a favorable character or tendency

“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.’” Psalm 16:2

“You are good, and what You do is good; teach me Your decrees.” Psalm 119:68


  1.  Not depreciated

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:8

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last and there is no God besides Me…Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’” Isaiah 44

God doesn’t change, you can’t take away from who He is.


  1.  Virtuous, right, deserving of respect

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:11


  1.  Representative of high standards and skill

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”  Romans 11:33-36


  1.  Benevolent; being good to others

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25-26

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33


So the next time you’re immersed in the deep, and you find yourself unable to feel God’s presence, and that lie about God tries to slip into your heart and mind, stop. Remind yourself instead that God is who He says He is. He IS good. And immerse yourself  instead in this truth from 1 Peter, chapter 1:


All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.


We want to hear from you!

What helps you remember God’s goodness, even in the difficult places?



Is God’s goodness a myth?

If God’s so good, why am I suffering?

Please share!

Be a Warrior in the Deep with Mark Mynheir

Author Mark Mynheir-Be a Warrior in the Deep-Write from the Deep Podcast

46 – Be a Warrior in the Deep

Author Mark Mynheir is a Marine. He’s been on a S.W.A.T. team. Done undercover narcotics work. And he’s been a law enforcement officer for almost 30 years. He’s a modern-day warrior—and he’s here to help you on your journey in the deep. Let his experiences and wisdom help prepare you for battles in the deep!

Show Notes

Mark Mynheir is a former Marine who’s worked in law enforcement nearly three decades. In his career, Mark has served as a patrol officer, an undercover narcotics agent, a S.W.A.T. team member, and a homicide detective. Mark has parlayed his police experiences into a successful speaking and writing career. He has written articles for Focus on the Family’s Breakaway magazine, Lookout magazine, and Christian Fiction Online and is also the author of five novels: Rolling Thunder, From the Belly of the Dragon, The Void, The Corruptible, and the Christy nominated The Night Watchman. Mark has also co-written two books with Max Lucado—Pocket Prayers for Dads and Pocket Prayers for Military Life.

You can visit Mark’s website at copwriter.com


Key Quotes

What the deep means to Mark…

I was thinking about that, and it has so many meanings. Whenever I hear the deep, it’s the deep in my faith; where am I at with my faith. That’s what it really means when I hear the deep. I’m thinking “Where I am with Jesus?” Am I going deep, am I digging deep, or am I just skipping across the surface?

When I’m writing, when I hear the deep, am I getting deep with my characters? And it’s very similar to my faith; am I skipping across the surface, or am I getting down to the meat and bones, down into the soul. Like I said, the deep has a couple meanings, but as a writer, it’s really am I getting to the soul of whatever I’m looking at.


Writing for impact…

When I wrote my first book, a lot of it had to do with forgiveness. So, I’m writing this book and I have this little agenda in my head and I’m going along, but I didn’t realize until I was done, you have to dig deep in yourself… putting pieces of yourself in your writing. And I found after I finished my first book, there was a lot of myself in it and it was a lot of healing and cleansing that God was working in me. And I had this grand vision of who I was gonna help! If nobody else got anything from it, I did. God was able to work through some things in my life and my attitude. By the time I was done and really had reflected on it, I was really thankful.


How Mark started writing…

Many folks know from an early age they want to write; they keep journals… That was not me. From a very early age, I struggled with written word. It was my enemy… I had learning disabilities… I hated writing.

I knew I could barely read and write, so I quit school at 17 and joined the Marines. I had a good service career… but in there I met a guy… he started explaining his learning disability and he said, “Mark, you have no idea what it’s like not being able to do what everyone else can do.” I was not a Christian at the time, but I knew God was speaking to my heart. And I looked at him and I said, “Yeah, I kinda do.”

So I get out of the service, I meet my wife… She encouraged me to go back to school. I went and I got tested and I found out I had dyslexia and dysgraphia. When they tested me, I tested grammar at about a second-grade level. Everything else was at a post-graduate level. It wasn’t that I was stupid, it was just there was a glitch somewhere in my head that really impacted me on reading and writing. Suddenly, it all made sense and my pain had a name… I had to take a year and a half of prep classes at college just to get into regular classes. My wife encouraged me so I kept writing. I went to school and kept learning and taking classes. And then I felt that…God called me to write and I just thought, “That’s just impossible” … I had these stories, but I thought I would never be able to put it onto paper. But again, my wife encouraged me… And finally I worked and I wrote my first book. I went to a writer’s conference… and a publisher expressed an interest in it. I was blown away, and I’m just thinking only God could do that.


Writing with Max Lucado…

I’d written novels…but I just didn’t have another novel in me… You hit that crossroad as a writer sometimes. About a week prior to this coming available, I said, “God… I wanna write something. But I’d like it where I don’t even get credit, I don’t care.”

A week later a former editor that I’d worked with at another publishing house emails me and says that Max Lucado has a series of books coming out. They’re pocket prayer books. One is for dads and one’s for military life. I had kids and I had been in the military, so I guess I was qualified. I’ve written fiction, I’ve written some articles…but never written a devotional. So what do you do? You pray.


Dealing with the darkness…

You can’t go through five, ten, fifteen, thirty years now… of law enforcement unscathed. It changes you. It really does. I spent my first five years of law enforcement…not as a Christian. I remember…becoming a believer and how the perspective changes, but the job changed you. You see so much horrible, horrible things. You…can become very jaded.

I don’t like going out in public. Whenever we go to a restaurant, my kids know which chair I have to sit in because I have to watch the door. I was talking about this with my co-workers the other day and none of us can be in a crowd for long periods of time. It’s very unsettling.

Police officers don’t do anything like normal people do… When you just wanna stop in and get a soda, you just don’t pull into a parking spot. You do at least one lap in any parking lot to make sure you’re not walking in on a robbery. You’re watching everybody’s hands. You don’t like people behind you in lines, especially when you’re in uniform, because you’re always a target.

We have an enemy, so I understand that and that helps me, but we also have a Savior.

I almost walked away from law enforcement and I was praying about it… “God, I don’t think I can do this anymore.” And God just made it abundantly clear… I read an article…that talked about the need for police officers and standing armies in a sinful and fallen world. That was just God’s clarification.


Final words of wisdom…

If God’s called you to write, don’t listen to the negative voices. Satan in your head. And please don’t read Amazon reviews. If God’s called you to write, you’ve got to write. You have no choice. Just do it, and God will do with it what He needs to do with it. You don’t worry about it, you only do what He calls you to do. Don’t let those negative voices derail you from what God’s calling you to do.


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What does it mean to you to be a warrior in the deep?



How to be a warrior in the deep!

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Hopelessness – Snares in the Deep, Part 2

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast - Hopelessness, Snares in the Deep, Part 2

45 – Hopelessness – snares in the deep, part 2

There are dangers in the deep, snares planted by the enemy of our souls to entangle us and keep us trapped in darkness and doubt. Today we’re exploring the most dangerous snare of all: hopelessness. But here’s the good news: There is ALWAYS hope when God is on our side. So come join the discussion on how to avoid—or escape—the snare of hopelessness.

Show notes

In part one of our series on snares in the deep (episode 44, and I encourage you to go back and listen to that if you haven’t) we talked about the snare of resentment. While resentment can build feelings of anger and frustration, this week’s snare can suck all your feelings away and leave you in a wasteland. Empty. Starving. Hopeless.

And that, my friends, is the snare we’re focusing on today. Hopelessness.

Hopelessness can lead to:

  • Giving up
  • Being isolated
  • Being more vulnerable to attacks from the enemy of our soul
  • Depression
  • Despair


How to avoid the snare of hopelessness:

Keep your hope centered in the right place—on God

  • Psalm 25:4-5 says, “Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” We’re not to hope in things or people or circumstances.
  • Psalm 130:7 says, “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.” We can hope in Him because He loves us.


Ground yourself in the reality of God’s goodness

  • Psalm 145:5-10 says, “I will meditate on Your majestic, glorious splendor and Your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim Your greatness. Everyone will share the story of Your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about Your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation. All of Your works will thank You, Lord, and Your faithful followers will praise You.”


Understand that the deep is just life

  • It’s not necessarily a punishment. Jesus experienced the deep to the point of sweating blood. It’s not a declaration of your value, or lack thereof. It just is. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • You’re not alone. We all go through challenges and slide toward hopelessness.


Focus on things that you have, rather than what you’ve lost

  • Be looking for things that give you hope. Purpose to spend time every day doing this, even if only for a moment. Of course, look in Scripture, but look for hope in the immediate, too. In the physical world around you. In things like a child’s joy in the moment, or music, or nature.


Live with your focus on the possibility of the unseen too

  • One of my personal definitions of  hope is unswerving belief in future possibilities. God is an infinite, boundless God. Infinite hope, infinite possibility. He can do things we can’t see coming. Yes, we should focus on the good things we see, but we should also be asking God daily to help us focus on the things unseen, the eternal things He has for us.


Use Scripture with a truth phrase to create “Affirmations of Hope”

  • With God, all things are possible. My feelings don’t change that truth.
  • The enemy is a roaring lion, seeking those he may devour. I will NOT be devoured.
  • God cares. He loves me for me!
  • Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” I’m not alone!
  • Psalms 34:17-18 “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” God has promised to save me!


How to escape the snare of hopelessness when you’ve been caught in it
  1. Acknowledge it. As with other snares, it’s a feeling, nothing more. The enemy is doing everything He can to convince you it’s reality. But it’s NOT.
  2. Reprogram your self-talk. Every time you start to say how nothing will change, how you’re cursed, or whatever the lie is, combat that with truth. Use your Affirmations. Repeat them, even if you don’t feel them. Speak truth until you DO feel it.
  3. Realize that it’s God who will make you able to do that. Psalm 119:147 says, “I rise before the dawning of the morning and cry for help. I hope in Your word.” Cry out to Him and put your hope in His truth.
  4. Quit. A few weeks ago we had a guest, Alton Gansky, who said it’s okay to quit, just don’t quit for good. Maybe you need to walk away from whatever is feeling hopeless. Even if only for a day. Take a break. Remove yourself. Give yourself permission to quit. But don’t stay there. Remember, you need to travel. To move forward. So after you quit, ask God to show you when to start again. Or ask how He wants to redirect you.


God’s purpose for us in the deep is that we learn about ourselves and Him, that we go deeper INTO Him. But there are times when it just feels like it’s too much. Like we’ll never escape. Like life will always be in this deep, difficult place. Remember, those feelings are just that, feelings. Don’t make the mistake of letting those feelings wrap themselves around your heart and spirit until you feel there is no hope. Prepare yourself for the day you’ll encounter the snare of hopelessness. And, if you end up caught by it, remember: there is always hope with God. There is no place too deep, too dark, for Him to take hold of us and lift us. Rest in Him and His promises and truth. And let those things free you from the devastation of giving in to the lie of hopelessness.


We want to hear from you!

What helps you avoid the snare of hopelessness?
What helps you escape when you’re caught in the snare?



Don’t let hopelessness trap you!


Please share!

Resentment – Snares in the Deep, part 1

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Write from the Deep Podcast, Resentment

44 – Resentment – Snares in the Deep, part 1

Being in the deep is bad enough, but what can you do when you find you’re trapped there? Caught by one of the strategic snares the enemy has planted? That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about. Join us as we discuss ways to avoid the snare of resentment. Or, if you’ve been caught in it, ways to escape. You’re not alone!


Show notes

In our last episode, we talked with award-winning author Alton Gansky about traveling in the deep. He had some wonderful insights for us, but it also made us think. Because we walk this fine line where we don’t want to strive to get out of the deep, we need patient endurance, but there should ultimately be a sense of movement in God’s time. Of progression, learning, and growing. It’s a journey. The trouble is, when we’re journeying in the deep, there are snares. And one of the most dangerous snares is resentment.


The Fruit of Resentment

Rebellion, willful disobedience, arrogance: These all lead to separation from God.

Which leads to: Physical consequences, broken relationships, loss of perspective.

And all that provides: A foothold for the enemy’s lies.


What Do We Resent?

That we’re in this deep place at all. We don’t deserve it.

But what does Scripture say we deserve?

  • “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Psalm 14:2-3
  • “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5
  • “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’” Romans 2:5-6
  • “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
  • It’s only by the GIFT of God that we can have forgiveness. We don’t—we can’t—earn it, and we don’t deserve it.


We Resent Being Punished

But Scripture tells us refinement isn’t punishment. It comes out of God’s love for us.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

  • “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
  • “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold.” Proverbs 3:11-14
  • There is gain in correction. Whatever the reason we’re in this deep place, it will be ultimately used for our good and God’s glory. Even Jesus suffered.
  • “God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.” Hebrews 2:10


We Resent Those Who Don’t Appear to Suffer Like We Do.

I’m way better than ______, and I don’t see him/her suffering like this.

  • The truth is that we don’t know what’s happening in another person’s life. Look at what Scripture says about focusing on self and our own faith, not looking at what God is doing with others.
  • “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:4-5


We Resent the Feeling of Constant Affliction

We resent that we have to go through yet another struggle. “Haven’t I been through enough?”

  • The apostle Paul had constant afflictions, including getting flogged not once, not twice, but 5 times.
  • On top of that, he says,  “…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
  • Paul turned his afflictions around—into a chance to bring glory to Christ.


We Resent that God Didn’t Save Us From it When He Saved Others

We ask ourselves, “Doesn’t He love me as much as He loves them?”

  • That’s comparing again. It’s taking our eyes off of God and His love for us.
  • “For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” Psalm 86:13


How to Avoid the Snare of Resentment

  1. Keep your perspective grounded in God’s truth. Not “Why me?” but “Why not me?” Jesus is our suffering Savior and He tells us we’ll suffer as well.
  2. Seek counsel. When the feelings hit, ask for prayer and counsel from those you know well and trust.
  3. Be aware of, and keep a check on, your expectations. “Not my will, but Yours.”
  4. Cultivate a spirit of gratitude, even in the deep. If you struggle with this, check out episode 22, “Count it all Joy.”


How to Escape the Snare of Resentment When You’ve Been Caught in It:

  1. Acknowledge it. It’s a feeling, nothing more. It’s not truth, it’s not reality. It’s how you feel, and that’s okay.
  2. Understand it. Ask God to show you the core of your resentment. The “why” of your feelings. Dig deep. Write it down. Be brave for this. We all have an ugly human side—that’s why we need Jesus. Don’t let this make you feel worse about yourself.
  3. Ask God to show you how to deal with that/those core(s). He wants to! He wants your restoration. Seek His forgiveness. Seek His truth. Seek His light. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
  4. Ask forgiveness from anyone you’ve harmed because of your resentment.
  5. Leave it with God, and move forward. Make a new game plan.



Being in the deep will happen for all of us at some point. The enemy knows that far better than we do. And he knows exactly how to set snares to entangle us. To keep us trapped and blind so that we can’t move forward or see what God has for us there. One of his most effective snares is the poison of resentment. But God is aware of the enemy’s plans and traps, and He’s already given us the key to avoiding those snares. And God knows there will be times we end up entangled, and He’s given us the way to escape. All we need to do is lean into Him, and let Him set us free.


We want to hear from you!

What helps you avoid and escape resentment?



Don’t let resentment endanger you!

Please share!