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083 – Pastor Writer in the Deep with Guest Chase Replogle

Pastor Writer in the Deep with Guest Chase ReplogleWhen pastor Chase Replogle became a writer, he had no idea how hard it would be! Before long, he started the podcast Pastor Writer to interview pastors, authors, and writing experts––such as Eugene Petersen, Os Guinness, and Janet Grant––all to gain a better understanding of the writing journey. And now he’s sharing that wisdom and insight with us!

About Chase Replogle

Chase Replogle is the pastor of Bent Oak Church in Springfield, Missouri. He has a degree in Biblical Studies and an M.A. in New Testament. He hosts the Pastor Writer Podcast, interviewing Christian authors on the calling and craft of writing. Guests have included: Tim Challies, Barnabas Piper, Dick Foth, Os Guinness, Pete Scazzero, and Scott Sauls. The podcast was recently featured by The Gospel Coalition. The site chronicles Chase’s ongoing writing projects, attracting many new listeners each month.

A native of the Ozark woods, he enjoys being outdoors with his wife and two kids: fly-fishing, playing the mandolin (badly), and quail hunting with his bird dog Millie.

Transcript

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re now able to offer transcripts of our interviews!

Karen: Hey guys, we’re in the deep today, and we welcome you here with us. We have a new guest, Chase Replogle. Erin, you’re on.

Erin: You know, guys, I am excited to have Chase here with us. I discovered him through his podcast, and then I discovered that Karen and I have a lot of friends in common with Chase. So that was really fun to just meet people across the internet. So, Chase does this podcast called Pastor Writer, and it’s all about a deeper look at the calling and craft of writing. Naturally, Karen and I are interested right away. Chase is also a pastor at Bent Oak church. He’s a freelance web designer and a writer. And the podcast Pastor Writer is his journey to better understand this very unique vocation of being a pastor and a writer. And so, we’re going to talk about that—the challenges and the struggles—so we’re going to have all kinds of fun with that today. Chase, welcome.

Chase: Thank you very much. It’s an honor to be on the show.

Erin: So, you know we always put our guests through the wringer here. We always want to talk about the deep, and we love to ask what is your concept of the deep? What does the deep mean to you?

Chase: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think everybody answers the question differently. I know I’ve heard and listened to a little bit of your show before too. And I think for me the question is, “What am I trying to reach when I write?” And everyone comes at that differently—well, there’s that famous Flannery O’Connor line, “I don’t know what I actually think until I write it.” I think that’s one of the quotes.

Erin: That’s me.

Chase: Yeah, “I write because it helps me clarify.” Or I think there’s George Orwell—I don’t remember the quote—but he talks about that he writes because there’s a lie that he has to expose. He knows there’s something that he needs people to understand. So everyone comes…their motivation for writing I think can be different, and trying to get to that spot where you do feel like—the phrase you use in the deep—you’re sort of in that place, that vocation, that calling for writing.

For me, as I was reflecting on it, and this has been a process of learning, you know. Early on I felt this conviction to write and this calling to write. But really quickly what happens is it fills in with other people’s explanations for why you should write or how you should write. And you start picking up advice, and you’re trying to write out of what other people have told you or what worked for them. It’s a long road to start figuring out, “Okay what is it that actually motivates me and compels me to sit down and actually do the writing more than wanting to do it?”

I’m starting to realize that I think I write to remind myself of what I believe, is the way I’ve been thinking about it. And the reason I put it that way is, there are certain truths about my faith, or my life, or things that are deep convictions that just in the busyness of life, in sort of the consumption of life, the advice of life, slowly gets pushed to the margins. And I can find myself sometimes reacting to something or having an opinion about something that, if I stopped for more than 30 seconds and thought about, might not actually be what I think or feel about that subject. I’m dragged into what everyone else is thinking or feeling. Or I’m clicking like on a social media post before I’ve really considered about if that’s actually what I think about this thing.

So, writing for me is an opportunity to withdraw from that noise; to sort of quiet myself from it and to put myself through a discipline of really trying to stop and consider what is true. What do I actually believe about this? Outside of everything culture is telling me, what do I find in Scripture? Where is the Spirit leading me? What is that thing that I want to hold on to that’s so easily forced out from me?

Sometimes I write without sensing that. Sometimes I write into it and find it as I’m writing. Sometimes I’m brought to the page because I very much am feeling that thing I want to hold on to. But there’s always that moment in writing when it goes well. Where I feel myself sinking into it and recognizing this is what’s true, this is what I actually believe, and finding a way to say it to myself first, even before I say it to an audience or someone else.

Karen: Finding that sense of purpose, and that sense of motivation without the chaos and without the cacophony around you, like you were saying of what everyone else says: “You’re so good at this, and you’re so good at that.” I’ve been working with writers for a lot of years and I find, especially when writers contact me about possibly editing their manuscripts, they’re like, “Well whatever you say, I’ll do.”

And I’m like, no, you don’t understand. My job is to come alongside you and bring your story out. It’s not to re-write your story. You’ve got to know—like you said Chase—what’s true for you and what you are writing and the message that you have, and you need to hold fast to that. Because that is what God is breathing into you to write and you can’t let go of that just because people come in and say, “Oh no, you need to be doing this, and you need to be doing that.”

Chase: Yeah, I think that’s the pressure—that you start writing to what you know the audience is wanting to hear. And the unfortunate thing that happens is—and it’s a combination and I can get to that—but the thing that happens is you end up losing your voice in the process because you end up writing what everyone else is writing. Because everyone else recognizes that is what’s getting shared or getting clicked or what’s controversial.

And so, it becomes this big tension of coming to terms with what is important and significant to you, what you want to hold on to, and at the same time, trying to figure out, “Okay how do I say that to an audience of people? How do I bring them into that place?” Which oftentimes means expanding what you originally had in your mind or the way you were getting into the subject, but not losing that thing that brought you to the page in the first place. That to me is one of the real challenges of writing.

Erin: So how are you balancing this challenge with writing? You know, you’re doing that, but you’re also a pastor, and you’re also a freelance web designer, you have all these vocations going on at the same time. How are you managing that?

Chase: Yeah, like everyone else, that’s one of the hardest parts. I wish I woke up every morning and brewed my cup of coffee and sat down in my leather chair in the corner and read for a couple hours. But that’s not the reality. Also, I have two kids, a four-year-old and a one-year-old.

My first calling was to pastor. I would give up everything else to be faithful to the congregation that I pastor. It’s a small congregation – about fifty people. And that’s my heart. I know everyone by name, they’ve been in my home. That’s what I’m most committed to. Freelance came out of that, doing web design and development and marketing because it allowed me to have the flexibility of schedule to pastor and sort of control my own schedule when pastoral needs dictated it. And I really feel like the Lord sort of helped guide me into that to find a proper balance.

Writing has always been one of the things that sort of—it’s been in my heart and I’ve just sort of kicked the can and kicked the can. I’ve done little things, you know, I write all of my sermons. I intentionally made the choice to do full transcriptions because I wanted the discipline of practicing. That’s usually around thirty-five hundred to four thousand words a week I’m writing, and I take that discipline seriously. So I’ve been doing it but kind of in quiet.

Then a couple of years ago I had a pastoral friend that was just saying, “You’ve really got a set up here between pastoring and doing your own freelance work, where you can work hard and carve out a few hours here and there and control your own schedule to take the writing more seriously.”

Initially, you know, you hear the advice, “Set a daily writing goal every day; stick to it no matter what.” I know that works for some people. Hopefully someday I’ll live in that world, but that’s just not the world I’m in right now. So I tend to think about seasons of writing. Coming up in December I’ve got some guest speakers at church, usually client work will kind of slow down at the end of the year. And so, I try to be really strategic about it—there are going to be three or four weeks where I’m doing more writing than normal in that period of time.

Then the other side of that equation, besides sort of handling it in seasons is: I’m always writing even when I’m not in front of the computer. I tend to do that with sermon preparation, also with writing. My notes app on my phone is just full of half sentences and phrases and ideas and thoughts. I tend to write off of an outline, so those outlines are just…I’m always working on them and rearranging and adding. So when the writing comes time to sit down and do it, I usually have a pretty good sense of what I’m wanting to accomplish in that time. But that’s just proved out of trying to find a way to make it work in life and in this schedule. I think that’s different for everyone.

Karen: We’ve come to call that fodder. Erin and I when we are preparing podcasts or when we’re just having our meetings or when we read our devotional—every time we’re together to work we have a time reading Streams in the Desert and then we have a time of prayer together—and we’ll be reading Streams in the Desert, and we’ll just stop and be like, “That would be such a good podcast.” So, we have this whole file that’s full of fodder for the podcasts that we want to do, and we jump in there whether we’re together or whether we’re not, so that’s where we save all that.

I love that idea that you’re constantly writing in your head. I think everyone is like that. That’s why when we go to writers’ conferences—as you had mentioned we met enough to have a handshake at Mount Hermon in 2018—the writers’ conferences are so much fun because you’re with a bunch of other people who are writing in their heads and talking with their characters, and no one thinks they’re crazy. So it’s a good environment.

Erin: Chase, tell me what—as we’re talking about this you had mentioned that Janet Grant is your agent now, and you had met her at a writing conference. So you’re really walking this writing journey. What has surprised you most? You know, nobody comes in and has it all figured out. What do you feel was the biggest surprise about how this whole writing/publishing thing goes?

Chase: That’s an easy one for me: how slow the process is. I had no idea. I’m a pastor and I’m self-employed, so if I want to start something then I buy the domain name, and we’re off and running a couple days later. And it’s not a complaint because I’m learning more and more why it’s slow. It does matter and giving yourself the time, the writing space, the editing space.

Right now, I have a completed manuscript and proposal, and we’re just beginning to pitch it to publishers. But trying to pick up the right endorsements, which takes an incredible amount of time, it’s an incredibly slow process. But more and more I’m learning that that’s okay. I can settle into that. Right? It’s more of your own desperation to know how that’s going to end and that makes you so impatient. But picking up a second project and getting started on something else instead of putting all your hopes and dreams into one project. That’s been helpful. But yeah, it is a long patient process, especially that traditional publishing route.

Karen: You mention a really good point, and that’s not just putting all your eggs in one basket and sitting back and just waiting for a response to a proposal you sent out. Janet is an excellent agent, and you’re really fortunate to have her. She’s a very smart lady. Plus, she’s a lot of fun. But the whole idea that once you send something out, the next step is to start working on the next thing. Because you can never tell. You can get all kinds of rejections, and you set it aside, and you go to the next thing. Then down the road is the right timing for that thing that everyone rejected, and suddenly they’re rabid to get it.

Chase: Yeah one of my other big surprises from the process was—maybe this is a blunt way to put it—but nobody reads the manuscript. So I actually write the whole book, because I wanted to prove to myself that I can. And it’s like, nobody along the way has actually read the thing but me. It feels very bizarre to have proposals and editor conversations.

But to make the point, I underestimated how significant the concept is and getting that concept right. That has to be there. The writing has to be there, too, but before you’re even going to get to that conversation, to really know what it is and how it’s positioned. Janet has been a huge help for me on that. And figuring out the right way to be able to pitch the book and the audience, I just underestimated how significant that was.

Karen: So, I’m curious with all these things that you’re doing—you’re doing the pastoring, you’re a dad, you’re doing the writing. What made you do a podcast?

Chase: Most of your listeners are writers or doing their own writing. Everyone knows the platform question is one of the big questions when it comes to traditional publishing, and so I was getting that from lots of directions. Did I mention that my church has fifty people? I do not have a large pastoral platform. I’m not getting a lot of invitations to major conferences.

I knew I needed to take the platform piece more seriously, but I also knew I wanted to do it in such a way that felt like it was true to who I am. And one of the things I love is the personal aspect of a podcast. The conversations, the ability to build relationships, and for those relationships to be more than just a tweet or an article share, but actually getting to have deep conversations about things.

So for me the podcast, it felt like strategically a good decision to help build the platform. It was also a strategic decision that it let me be able to have great conversations with editors like you guys, and people in the industry that I wouldn’t have access to without a show. It was strategic because I have a lot of pastors on, which I know a lot of my writing is geared towards, you know, really important relationships for book spreading in churches.

So, there were some good strategy pieces to it, but again it felt more natural for who I am as a person—these kinds conversations—than just sort of, you know, articles or Facebook Lives. Those can be great tools for other people, but the audio conversation just fit me personally really well. It’s been a blast. It’s one of the best decisions that I’ve made. I just love it every week.

Erin: And I’ve enjoyed—like I said I discovered you through that—and I have enjoyed listening to the episodes I’ve had time to listen to so far. I’ve had to work my way through your back episodes.

Chase: Yeah, I know how hard that is, too. We all have big lists of them pilling up.

Erin: So what are some of, maybe, some of the incites you’ve discovered or gotten from your guests that have impacted you personally?

Chase: I alluded to this earlier. I used to think that writing was a very sort of monolithic thing, like the process was: you had to do it a certain way, and people approach it a certain way. I’m surprised by how differently people approach writing and how important it is to figure out why you do it.

But the other big thing that I’ve learned from my guests is, besides them just having a different approach to writing or a different tactic for getting the actual writing done, all of them seem to have audiences that are in totally different parts of the internet. And topics that are very different to them. And some of the guests I’ll have on, no one has ever heard of, but I’ve stumbled across a book or met them online.

But when you get talking to them, they’re phenomenal writers and they have really engaged audiences. I look at my bookshelves, especially within Christian publishing, and there’s like these big names that everyone would recognize, and you go into a Christian bookstore and their books are always there. But there’s a massive amount of faithful, really excellent writers out there who are writing on these important topics to important audiences, and so many of them are doing really good, faithful work, but they’re not household names. More and more I’m coming to respect the people who do that. You know I think about Drew Dyck, one of the guys I’ve had on here recently. We were talking about Eugene Peterson. I think of him as a kind of grinder when it comes to writing. He’s had three or four books out now. None of them have been New York Times best-selling books, but really, really good books. And books that have had a really good impact on certain segments of the audience. He may never be a household name, but the work he is doing is really, really important work.

I had a relatively new author on the other day, Ben Vrbicek, who is writing a book about how pastors make transitions in churches. I was joking with him about how no one is going to be able to sell this book because you can’t get caught reading it, right? So, nobody writes it, you know in a very practical sense, like no one is going to publish it, and he self-published the book because it’s just not a book that’s going to be able to be marketable.

Karen: And it’s packaged in brown paper bags, right?

Chase: Yeah, that’s actually a great idea. But it’s a super important topic and one that a lot of pastors need and so I just, I have more and more respect for those kinds of authors who are just putting in the work, and publishing work, and finding the right audience. We may not know their names but God’s using them. And they’re fulfilling that calling. And they’re a really important part of the reading and the writing that’s happening that most of us may never know about.

Karen: We stress to writers, both in our work as editors and coaches, and we stress in our podcast that the task that God has given you isn’t to get published. The task that He has given you is to write, and you never know what the audience is that God wants you to reach with your message. But you need to be obedient to that task that He has given you because nobody can deliver the message that He has given you the way that you can. And even if you only change one person’s life, you’ve changed a person’s life. You’ve impacted them through God and that’s a powerful, powerful thing.

Erin: Yeah, yeah. I love that because I think the majority of writers are out there working in obscurity or for those few people that will read it. We tend to think of the household names as: these are the real writers. That’s not true at all, exactly as you were saying, Chase. There’s an army of writers out there doing excellent work that most of us can’t ever know who they all are, but they’re there, you know. What do you do, Chase, when you’re discouraged? Have you ever been discouraged, tempted to give up?

Karen: He’s a pastor. Of course he has!

Chase: Yes, yes, do you mean today or yesterday?

Karen: You mean this morning?

Chase: Again, seasons have become really important to me. So you know having the discipline to walk away for a time. My wife is really helpful at that. She recognizes when I’m like, you know—it’s not fun anymore. That’s a little too simplistic, but when it’s getting desperate, is the way I’ll normally describe it on the podcast. You feel it inside of you, it’s this tendency to overwork and to start working on the things that you really can’t control but you’re trying to. That desperation, “How can I get more shares on this thing? How can I get more numbers on this?”

I’m starting to know myself well enough to recognize that earlier on and being able to walk away from it. In fact, that’s one of the things that being bi-vocational has been a real gift for is when I start to sense that with writing, I know it is just time to stop. Leo Tolstoy has a great quote about Sabbath, and he says, “For God’s sake just stop.” That’s the way he describes Sabbath.

We do a really awkward thing with the Sabbath. We turn the Sabbath into, like, I’ll take one of seven days off, so it will rejuvenate me, and I can get more done on the other six days. We turn the Sabbath into a productivity hack so we’ll get more done. I really think the point of Sabbath is to put an intentional check on yourself. “I could go further with this work but I’m going to stop short intentionally to remind myself that this is not in my hands, and it’s not about me figuring out the best way to get this done.” So, trying to put intentional checks on that desperation says, “When I start to feel that I’m just going to stop. I’m going to walk away from the Facebook analytics. I’m going to close Google analytics. I’m going to walk away from the blog, and I’m going to go have coffee with the people I pastor. I’m going to work on some client work, and I’m going to come back to it down the road.”

I’m trying to learn to do the work I can do and stop doing the work that’s been done out of desperation. And that takes…you’ve got to know yourself, and you’ve got to be willing to push back against yourself and check yourself in some really determined ways.

Karen: I think that’s an awesome idea. I think we all need to put a little note on our computers that says: Step away from the statistics. Find the Sabbath.

Chase: Yep, because no matter how you dissect them and pull them apart—and this is helpful information—but you’re not going to change the numbers, right?

Karen: You have no control, folks. Control is an illusion, especially where publishing is concerned.

Erin: That is very true. So we’re getting close to the end of our time here, Chase. If you could leave our listeners with one most important thought or final words of wisdom or encouragement, what would you want to say to them?

Chase: I think the best thing you can do as a writer—and again I’m an unpublished writer who’s trying to find my way through this, so take it for what it’s worth—but I think you have to figure out for yourself what you enjoy in the process and do it.

There’s always going to be hard work. There’s always going to be things you don’t want to do in the process, things that are difficult to get through. But if you know what part of the process you actually enjoy for the sake of the work—not just what you imagine it’s going to pay off and be, or where it’s going to take you, but the actual—I mean, for me it’s revision. Writing is hard, but I love the process of revisions. Knowing that that’s the thing, whether it gets published or it gets deleted off my hard drive. I have backups so hopefully that won’t happen. But if everything was lost there was still something beneficial to my spiritual development, my enjoyment, and just a part of the process that I love. If you can figure that out then lean into that and just know that’s the work, that enjoyment. That’s what you’re being called to do, and you’ll find the motivation to do the other stuff that you have to that may not be as enjoyable if you can find that place.

Karen: Chase, you have been an absolute delight. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, for sharing your wisdom and experiences with us. I know that our readers are going to be blessed by it and find new truths that maybe they’ve never considered.

I’m going to be spending a lot of time thinking about the idea of Sabbath and what that really needs to be for me, not just as a writer but in everything that I do. And so, thank you for being with us. We hope that our listeners will all flood to listen to Pastor Writer and hear the amazing interviews that you do with these folks, and we’re looking forward to what God is going to do in you in the future.

Chase: Well, thank you so much. It’s a real honor. I take that very seriously. And I love the work that you guys do. I know first-hand how much work goes into it that no one really sees or realizes. So thank you for all the work that you do, too. Sometimes podcasting is like speaking into a black hole. You look at this microphone, people are downloading it, I have no idea who these people are. I know how that can feel. So I appreciate so much the work that you do. We need more of it. So thank you as well.

Erin: Well thank you!

We want to hear from you!

Chase has many roles to juggle in his life. What about you? What helps you prioritize?

Tweetable

Come experience the deep with pastor, writer, and podcaster Chase Replogle!

Special thanks

Thanks so much to our December sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow! Her debut novel Blood Beneath the Pines, a suspense set in the deep South, is now available! Congratulations, Tammy!

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

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082 – Gratitude in the Deep with Guest Robin Patchen

Gratitude in the Deep with Guest Robin Patchen on Write from the Deep PodcastIt’s so hard to cope when those we love are in crisis. When their lives are in danger? It seems impossible. But guest Robin Patchen has faced such deep times, and come out of them with something she never expected: gratitude. Listen in as she shares how the deepest times of her life brought her a deeply grateful heart.

About Robin Patchen

Aside from her family and her Savior, Robin Patchen has two loves—writing and traveling. If she could combine them, she’d spend a lot of time sitting in front of her laptop at sidewalk cafes and ski lodges and beachside burger joints. She’d visit every place in the entire world—twice, if possible—and craft stories and tell people about her Savior. Alas, time is too short and money is too scarce for Robin to traipse all over the globe, even if her husband and kids wanted to go with her. So she stays in Oklahoma, shares the Good News when she can, and writes to illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story. Connect with Robin at robinpatchen.com.

Transcript

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re now able to offer transcripts of our interviews!

Karen: Hey, it’s time for being in the deep again with Erin Taylor Young and Karen Ball, and we’re just so glad that you’re joining us here. We have an amazing show planned for you. One that’s going to dig into something that seems almost impossible – and that’s a heart of gratitude when you’re in deep places. Wow, that’s tough to even contemplate, but our guest today, Robin Patchen, has been in some very deep places and came out of it with an unexpected gift, and that’s a heart of gratitude for God’s presence and what He does for us in the deep. So, Erin introduce our wonderful guest.

Erin: You hear that guys, right? I get to do the introduction. And that’s because I’ve known Robin for a long time. I’ve known Robin for over a decade now, and she is the award winning author of eight novels. By the way, they’re great books, you guys. Just last night I was teaching a class—a publishing class—and I was using an example from one of Robin’s books, so there you go. She’s also a wife, a mom, a freelance editor, and again by the way, she’s a great editor. I know because she’s worked for me, and she’s worked for Serenade Books, and many others. But most of all Robin loves to share stories that reflect the unending grace of God. And she lives them too, as you’re going to find out more about in our podcast. I’ve come to know Robin as a woman of insight and wisdom and deep faith. And we are delighted to have her with us today. Welcome Robin!

Robin: Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Karen: Don’t you sound good in our introduction? We always make our guests sounds so amazing. That’s because they are! But we really do make them sound good.

Robin: I was sitting here wondering who are they talking about?

Karen: I saw how your eyes kept getting—friends we can see Robin on a video—and I could see how her eyes were getting wider and wider.

Erin: But you know what, you guys? This is the thing. We don’t always have an accurate picture of ourselves and the way others see us. That’s one of the beautiful things about friendship and about being able to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. It’s a really cool thing to have that happen. Okay, Robin, we’re going to put you on the spot because we love to do that. This is the show about deep. What does the deep mean to you, Robin?

Robin: It’s so interesting because I’ve been in a lot of hard places, a lot of trials, over the last years of my life. But to me the deep isn’t really about that. It’s about being in a place of intimacy with God, whether you’re in times of trials or not. I think my goal is to live in the deep with God regardless of what’s going on in my life, whether it’s good things or bad things.

Karen: That’s very good.

Erin:  I think that’s great. That’s so hard too. I mean so many of us are like, okay, we’re hurting where’s God? Okay, we’re in trouble, where’s God? And it’s like, okay, things are great, I don’t know who God is right now. It’s like we just go somewhere else when that happens.

Robin: For me it’s easier to forget God and climb out of the deep on my own when things are going well. Maybe that’s why He keeps me in those trials so much. I need to learn to be in the deep with Him even when my life is not out of control. Maybe that would help. I don’t know.

Karen: So why don’t you talk to us about some of the most recent struggles. You’ve been through something really tough, and you did this amazing blog about it all. When we read that and when we talked with you recently in Oklahoma City where we were speaking at a writers gathering, share with us the things that you’ve been through recently.

Robin: Well, it was an interesting summer.

Karen: She’s like the queen of understatement.

Robin: On July 13, this past summer, my 19-year-old daughter was at a friend’s house, and she fell down a flight of stairs. It was an outdoor apartment staircase. It was concrete. She landed on concrete. And she landed on her hands, which was a good thing because she didn’t land on her head or on her back. But bad because she crushed both her wrists. And she broke her sternum, which was the least of our problems although it did become quite painful. So she came home from hospital, I picked her up, and she had a cast on one arm—her left arm—from fingertips to bicep, and on her other arm from fingertips to elbow. So she could bend her right but couldn’t even bend her left. They were both so painful at first that she literally couldn’t dress herself. She couldn’t pour herself a glass of water. She could do nothing for herself. That was awful and very, very difficult to deal with.

Three days later, on July 16, it was Monday, and we got a call at 9:20 at night. My 16-year-old son, who’d been visiting my sister in Utah—we live in Oklahoma—so my sister called me at 9:20, and she said the boys had been in a terrible accident, they were being life-flighted to Salt Lake City, and she said, “They’re alive and they’re both talking and that’s all I know.” And she said, “We’re on our way to the hospital. We’ll call you when we get there.”

It was the most awful—really at the time it felt like the most awful phone call a person can get. Of course it’s not, because they were alive. But it was terrifying. It was the most interesting experience because I was standing in the kitchen. I had been texting with a friend about getting together for lunch and watching some stupid TV show. I was standing in the kitchen taking this phone call and I literally—I didn’t fall—but I went to my knees, and then I went to my hands and knees, and then I went straight down—I’m not going to cry talking about it—I went straight down to my face. I was lying on my not terribly clean kitchen floor. You know how that writer’s brain, you know like 95% of you is engaged in the moment, and 5% of you is like, this is really weird. I should remember this.

Karen: And that 5% is taking notes: “…so I need to say the kitchen floor wasn’t clean…”

Robin: Yeah for that 5% it’s like you’re really strange, or maybe…I don’t know. So anyway, I’m on the floor and I see my husband and my daughter. I don’t know what I said that drew them in from the other room but clearly I said something because they were both standing there, my daughter with her casts and my husband, like, “What’s happened?”

I managed to say what my sister had told me, which was not anywhere near enough information. We knew nothing. It was bad enough that they were being taken by helicopter. That’s what we knew. And we knew nothing else. I mean, I could talk about this for hours, but I won’t. I will tell you what we found out about the accident, my son had just drifted a little off to the right and overcorrected. So he spun the car. He jerked the wheel to the left and spun the car out. They hit the lip on the other side, and it flipped three times side over side, and then somehow shifted and flipped—the investigator said—at least three more times end over end. And it landed on his arm. So the windows all broke, of course, and the whole car was crushed. And it landed I think on the side, and his arm was pinned out the window so… the amazing and miraculous thing is that the people who had been following them for 10 miles, of course, stopped. And the guy driving was a former army medic, and his wife was a nurse.

Karen: Holy cow!

Robin: And I always think about that because I feel like I was sitting there watching TV and texting with my friend saying, “Should we have lunch next week?” I had no idea that that was happening. But the Lord was ahead of us. He was right there. If people hadn’t been there and pulled him out, it’s very likely that he would not have survived. Because both of his lungs had collapsed. He couldn’t breathe. He was spitting up blood. They kept turning him over so that he could spit that blood out and not breathe it in. It’s a miracle that he survived.

And so many things… I mean all these people stopped in the middle of the desert in Utah. Jacob says the first memory he had was that he woke up and there were people everywhere. There were enough people there that they lifted this crushed Land Rover off of him. They pulled him out of the car. All these people from who knows where. My sister got a call from one of the witnesses who said that he had left his house that night furious with his family. Just left in a total huff and got on the highway and came on that accident and was out there helping them, and then immediately went right home. So it’s like the Lord just orchestrated all these things to protect our boys. I’m getting choked up talking about it.

Karen: We’re getting choked up listening so it’s only fair! The thing that amazes me is what you said. There you are living your life not thinking about anything beyond a television show and texting a friend, and Almighty God who sees beginning to end is there protecting your son and protecting your nephew. And supplying all these people. The thing my writer’s brain went to as I’m listening is I wonder how many people were actually guardian angels that God had sent out?

I love the way that He moved in that guy’s life—that he left his family furious, saw this, realized what was really important, and went back to his family. And probably grabbed his wife and his kids and held onto them. We look at these dark places, and we look at these frightening events, and we think this is so terrible. Yet in the midst of it, look at all the stuff that God did. All of the the impact, and the people who were there, and the care by the medical folks. How can we ever doubt that He is with us in the deep places? And that He has gone before and behind. How can we ever doubt that?

Robin: That’s right. It’s so interesting because it all depends on your perspective. Because my sister lives in Utah and we live here. Our boys are best friends. But I haven’t lived near her in 10 years. So it’s just very unusual to walk through this really difficult time with her and her husband and my husband. And her little girls were there too. And to see how everybody reacted to it. My sister and I are both sort of the same. We just kept looking at each other while the boys were in hospital like, “Can you believe this?” And from our perspective it was like, wow.

Doctors and nurses would come in and they would introduce themselves—the boys were at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, which was the absolute best place they could possibly have been, which was also not an accident, it was exactly where they needed to be—the doctors would come in and the first thing they would say was always, “I’m so sorry we have to meet under these circumstances.” And I was always like, “Why? I’m thrilled that you’re here, and I’m freaking thrilled that I am here because that could have gone much differently.”

So my sister and I were just constantly marveling at all the things that the Lord had done. And yet others in our party didn’t see it that way. They weren’t looking for the Lord’s hand in it and therefore they didn’t see the Lord’s hand in it. Does that make sense?

Karen: It does. So much of what we talk about here is about the condition of your heart, and how necessary it is to prepare your heart for taking this writing journey with God. Because you never know what you’re going to encounter. And if your heart isn’t focused on, and based in Him, then when things happen, you’re going to look at the events and that’s what you’re going to measure reality by, rather than being able to see and recognize God’s hand and His movement and His protection in the midst of it all. So yeah, it makes a lot of sense. When we’re not focused and based in God, we don’t see Him. It’s like the Scripture always says, let those who have eyes to see, see, and ears to hear, hear. And that’s that we cultivate before, after, and in the midst of being those deep places.

Erin: The interesting thing, Robin, is that you had even more challenges to that because, as you said, three days prior your daughter had gotten two casts on her arms, and she can’t do anything for herself. I mean seriously, I would have been like, “Really God? Really?” Because it’s challenging enough to be dealing with that teenage daughter at home and then all of a sudden you’ve got to go to your other son who’s states away, and you had to leave her behind. How did that go?

Robin: That was absolutely awful. She was so good about the whole thing. She really was. My blessed mother, I love her to pieces, she turns her phone off when she goes to bed. That’s because she doesn’t have little kids she has to worry about. So she has no idea. The first flight out of Oklahoma City, we were on. We left at like 6 AM, and we got a direct flight, so we’re calling her on the way to the airport. Maybe it was eight. And she answers the phone like, “Hey, honey, how are you?”

Everybody else in the family knows because they have seen all our text messages. That’s another thing that you do when you know that you have a God. You tell everybody you know to please pray right now.

Karen: Exactly!

Robin: We’re texting and calling and emailing like crazy. Everybody I knew who would pray, knew about it that night. So I was like, “We’re going to the airport, and we’re going to Salt Lake City, and you have to take care of my daughter. I hope you’re okay with that.”  And my mother was like, “I’m on it.”

We had friends who brought food and took care of them. But yeah, the part of that that was so hard was that my daughter had to have surgery. So we had been in the hospital, this was like maybe day eight of Jacob in the hospital, and they had to go to pre-opp, we hadn’t done any of that because it was on a Friday. My mother went to the pre-opp with the surgeon, and she managed it all. She scheduled it, and she took Lexi in to have the surgery. And after the surgery my daughter says to me—I knew we were exactly where we needed to be—says to me, “I want to talk to my mom.” My mother called me, and she was crying, Lexi was crying, I was crying. My poor husband is like patting me on the back, “It’s going to be okay, honey.” And he was probably thinking, “Oh heavens, here we go, crazy women…” That was really hard.  She had to get over this surgery ,she had all the medications, and my mother who’s, you know, older, she managed it. It all worked out. But that is not how I would have written it up if it had been my choice.

Erin: This is the epitome of making it worse for your character and then worse yet! What I love about what you said, Robin, is that your first task was to go write to everybody and ask them for prayer. I have to believe that that was a big piece of your attitude, and everything that happened with your mom being able to take care of your daughter, and all of those things going on. We don’t think about how important prayer is sometimes. We undervalue it. But that is the best thing we can do. And it’s clear that that affected your ability to be thankful and your gratitude. Talk a little bit about how something like this affects you now as a writer.

Robin: It’s interesting. It’s not just the past trials. The last five years my family has gone through trial after trial after trial. If I said them all out loud you guys would think I was…it’s not the kind of thing you can put your character through because no one would believe it.

Karen: Right!

Robin: Of course, that’s why I was able to have that thankfulness and to immediately go to prayer now this summer because I’ve had five years of practice, of saying, “Okay, there is a God. And He’s been training me for five years to look at trials as an opportunity to grow closer to Him.”

All of it has helped me as a writer because, for one thing, I have learned that I am doing this for a reason, and He has called me to do it. So regardless of what I’m going through, I keep writing. That’s what I do. Like, that’s what I’m supposed to do, so that’s what I do. There’s no excuse to quit. Obviously this summer I took a long break. I wasn’t writing at that point, but yeah, it’s what I do. So that’s one thing. But also I think that it just helps me to dig deeper into what my characters go through. When I put them through trials, I have a lot more experience of what it feels like, the other side of that.

Karen: I think going through it ourselves, if we’re willing then to be honest about the struggle and honest about our emotions, we can bring an authenticity to the page that we couldn’t otherwise do.

I remember when my husband and I were separated, and it was just a terrible, terrible time. I had been through some pretty extensive emotional abuse. Nothing that he intended, but things that he had been trained through a lifetime of abuse to do. A gal came up behind me, one of the other employees at the publishing house where I was working, and she said, “Of course you realize you can never get married again. If you and your husband divorce, you can never get married again because God won’t bless that.” And I remember—other than wanting to belt her—I remember thinking to myself, “You poor woman, you have never suffered in your life. You don’t understand what it is to walk these dark roads with Jesus and with God, and to be on your face before Him.”

I just looked at her, then turned and walked away. I didn’t even say anything. It was just a revelation to me of how vitally important it is for us to go through these times and have an honest understanding of what it is to hold on to God in the midst of the the times when the foundation of what we thought we knew, and who we thought we were, gets shaken.

Erin: what helped to hold on, Robin? You said you’d been in training for so long, but what helped you? I’m sure you’ve had times of discouragement, how did God train you? What worked? What did it?

Robin: I think that the most important things for me have been having a consistent time with the Lord regardless of what’s going on in my life, because sometimes it’s just easy to say today’s not a good day. My son was in the hospital for 10 days. He was in ICU for seven. I don’t know if you’ve ever had somebody in ICU, but they don’t care—day or night, it’s irrelevant. If you’re sleeping in the hospital, you’re not sleeping in the hospital. And yet every single day he was there, I opened my Bible at least once and read at least one chapter of something, because that’s where the truth is. Even though most days it was a psalm, and frankly most days it was the same psalm. My favorite, you know? So that’s a really big part of it for me, just spending time with the Lord. And memorizing Scripture. And having those things to hang on to.

But I also think that if you don’t believe what the Bible says and trust that God’s going to come through and He’s really there, I sort of liken it to if you’re walking through the woods. Like you guys both love animals, right?

Karen: Right.

Robin: If you guys are walking through the woods, you’re looking for animals because that’s the way you are. You’ve got your eyes open for a deer or an elk or a squirrel. Or you’re looking for rabbit holes, or whatever. You have your eyes open for that. And a bird lover is walking through the woods with his eyes up and his ears open listening for a bird’s song and trying to find that bird. If you believe, you don’t walk through Walmart looking for wildlife—

Karen: Well that depends on what kind of wildlife you’re talking about. This is Oregon, so…

Robin: That’s a good point, okay…but anyway, because you don’t believe you’re going to find wildlife in Walmart. If you’re walking through a trial looking for God, it’s because you believe you’re going to find God in the trial. If you don’t go into it with the faith that He’s going to be there, you’re going to miss it. You’re going to miss Him in those places. So I think the training in the last five years for me has come from learning that God is in every single trial and looking for Him. And when I look, I always find Him.

Karen: Robin, that’s a good word—to be focused on and looking for God even when things are hard and frightening. And to be doing it like we talked about earlier, when things are going well. Robin, thank you so much for coming and spending time with us. For sharing your experiences. I for one am grateful that God has given you a grateful heart in the midst of the deep. And that you can share your experiences with us, and with our listeners, and with so many others to bring about the reality of understanding God’s presence with us no matter what we’re going through, and our need to be grounded in Him and established in our faith. And to be looking for Him. So, for those of you looking, keep your eyes open. Keep your ears and your heart open. Listen for Him. Watch for Him, because I guarantee you, as Robin has told us, He’s there before we even know we need Him.

Erin: Amen.

We want to hear from you!

Does gratitude come easy for you? What helps you have a thankful heart?

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Are you in a deep place? Let Guest Robin Patchen guide you to a grateful heart!

Connect with Robin

Get a free copy of Robin’s romantic suspense novel Convenient Lies, book 1 in the Hidden Truth series, when you sign up for her newsletter!

Convenient Lies by Robin Patchen

SPECIAL THANKS

We’re grateful to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Bobbi Updegraff! Learn more about the scholarship funds she started for Hondurans at friendsofrenancer.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

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081 – Imposter Syndrome: How to Shut it out of Your Life

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Imposter Syndrome Write from the DeepYou’ve gone to writing conferences, honed your craft, written a manuscript or two, or three, or more, maybe even gotten them published. Maybe even hit a bestsellers list, more than once. Maybe become a perpetual bestseller. And yet…you feel like somehow, someday, someone is going to discover the terrible truth. You’re a fraud. You don’t really have any writing talent. It’s all been a fluke. Everyone who says they love your writing wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them on the nose. And if those people knew who you REALLY were, deep down, they’d run from ever again reading anything you write.

Welcome to Imposter Syndrome. Sometimes known as imposter phenomenon, or fraud syndrome.

An article in Scientific American: defines Imposter Syndrome this way. “Impostor Syndrome is a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

Biases that Fuel Imposter Syndrome

Why is Imposter Syndrome so prevalent? Many reasons. But one reason stems from how our brains are wired. We have what’s called in social psychological terms a bias blind spot, which is the belief that we’re more objective and less biased than other people.

So basically we’re biased to think we aren’t biased.

Where this really comes into play is with something called naïve realism, which Elliot Aronson defines in his book The Social Animal as “The propensity to believe that our subjective interpretation of reality IS reality.” We believe other people’s views of reality are wrong. Or misguided. But we see things as they really are. Especially things about ourselves.

There’s also another bias that we have: negative bias. You can sum up negative bias by saying bad is stronger than good. “Negative interactions and events…are far more powerful than positive interactions and events.” (from The Social Animal)

Put our biases together with our fears, worries, vulnerabilities, and insecurities, and you’ve got a recipe for Imposter Syndrome.

Problems Imposter Syndrome Causes

1. It opens a door to the enemy’s lies. And we’re so inclined to listen! This is why one bad review strikes us to the core and invalidates countless positive reviews. Why one negative reader letter will obliterate dozens of letters where readers thank you for helping them, even changing their lives. Remember the negative bias? It’s hard to shake the power of the negative.

2. It opens the door to playing the comparison game. When we read something that moves us, that we find beautiful and truthful, we’re far too inclined to turn that into a denigration of our own writing ability: “I’ll never write like that! Whatever made me think I could write?” At the core, it comes down to not feeling like a real writer. We look at other writers and think they’re the real ones, and we’re the fraud.

3. It opens the door to invalidating what God is doing in our writing. Maybe we become dissatisfied with our sales or career progress because everyone says we should be a bestseller, but we’re not, so something must be wrong with us. Since it doesn’t seem to us that God is doing very much through our writing, we must not be a real writer and this is the “proof.” But who are we to judge what God is doing in and through our writing?

4. It opens the door to fear. That keeps us from moving forward when God brings opportunities our way. Maybe we don’t submit to that agent or editor who was interested, or we don’t ever show anyone our writing, etc.

Practical Solutions for Imposter Syndrome
  • Stop focusing on our own abilities. Focus instead on God’s gifting and tasking in us.

Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Think about this not in terms of what’s good about yourself, but what’s good about GOD! None of us will ever feel confident in ourselves. We’re all too broken and prone to mistakes and wrong thinking. But when we put our focus on what’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy about the One who has give us this task, THEN  we can let of feeling like a fake. Because it’s not about our skill or ability. It’s about what God enables us to do.

  • Embrace the truth that God’s reality IS reality.

Remember, we’re prone to believe that only our interpretation of reality is the correct interpretation. But God is the only One who can see everything clearly, and know everything clearly. We have to get our definition of reality from Him. From His truth. From His Word.

James 4:12 says, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy…”

Micah 4:3 says, “And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations…”

Why does God get to be the judge? Because He alone has the knowledge of all things. He alone sees clearly. He alone has the wisdom.

  • Stop giving in to the negative. We dishonor God when we do that.

1. Don’t look to base your self-esteem on yourself and your feelings. Build them on the  truth of what God says about your worth and value:

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

YOU are God’s works. You are wonderful!

2. STOP reading reviews. There’s only one review you should care about, and that’s from the One who gave you this task. If He’s happy with you and your obedience, nothing anyone else says matters.

“For the Lord takes delight in His people…” Psalm 149:4

Seek to feel His delight, which will come because of your obedience.

3. Celebrate the positive. Actively look for the delights and blessings God has for you in each day. Even every moment of the day. If you write a line or paragraph that you really like, stop. Savor it. Thank God for it. Recognize that He is using you and celebrate that!

If you’re a journal kind of person, keep a blessing journal, so you can go back and read it over again and remind yourself of the ways God has used and delighted and blessed you and others.

  • REST in who God made you to be.

Rest. Don’t strive to be something else. And be thankful for the way He made others, especially when you’re struggling with comparison. When another writer’s work moves you, rather than give in to the temptation to compare, and feel like you have no business being a writer, simply thank God for the way He used that writer to affect you.

Pray for that other writer’s ministry, even. We’re all on the same team. God has a purpose for that other writer’s words, and He has a purpose for yours. Again, rest in who He made you to be. And submit yourself and your writing to Him for His purposes, whatever they may be.

Don’t give yourself permission to compare. To look at anyone but yourself and God when you consider whether or not you can or should do what He’s asking you to do. It’s not about what qualifications you think are necessary to do this task. It’s about the fact that God has given it to you.

Final Words

Remember there’s only one thing to judge yourself on, and that’s OBEDIENCE. Being a writer, obeying God when He gives you the task to write, isn’t about if you’re gifted, or if you’re able. It’s not about if you’re making money or hitting bestsellers’ lists. That’s all God’s circus, and His monkeys.

The only think you can control, and therefore evaluate whether or not you’re successful, is whether or not you’re obeying God. Doing what He asks. Speaking when He says to speak. Writing when and what He asks you to write. If you’re listening to, and obeying, God, you cannot be a fraud. And if you call yourself a fraud, you’re really saying He’s a fraud. And that, my friends, is never smart. Instead, let’s just be obedient, do what we know to do, and trust Him for the outcome.

We want to hear from you!

Have you struggled with Imposter Syndrome? What helps you overcome it?

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“Someday they’ll discover what a fraud I am.” Sound familiar? You CAN overcome Imposter Syndrome!

SPECIAL THANKS

We’re SO grateful to all our sponsors on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Special thanks to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Bobbi Updegraff! Learn more about the scholarship funds she started for Hondurans at friendsofrenancer.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

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080 – When Satan Doesn’t Let up with Kimberley Woodhouse

When Satan Doesn't Let up with Kimberley WoodhouseWe’ve all felt at times like the struggles just won’t end. Best-selling author Kimberley Woodhouse knows how you feel! She and her family have been through one attack after another after another. But in every situation, God proved Himself faithful and sufficient. You can keep your trust—and joy!—when it seems the enemy won’t let up.

About Kimberley Woodhouse

Kim is a devoted wife and mother, and a third generation Liszt student.  She has passed down her love of music and the arts to hundreds of students over the years, recorded three albums, and appeared at over 2,000 venues. Her quick wit, enthusiasm, and positive outlook through difficult circumstances have gained her audiences at conferences, retreats, churches, military functions, and seminars all over the country.

The Woodhouse family’s story has been on the front page of newspapers, in magazines, articles, medical journals, and most famously featured on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. They were also asked to share their story on The Montel Williams Show and Discovery Health Channel’s Mystery ER along with hundreds of other TV appearances and radio interviews.

Kim has been writing seriously for more than twenty years. Songs, plays, short stories, novels, picture books, articles, newsletters – you name it – she’s written it. It wasn’t until a dear friend challenged her to “do something with it” that she pursued publication. Now, she is a best-selling author of more than fifteen books, with more on the way.

She is passionate about Bible study, reading, music, cooking, and pretty-much-all-things-crafty. Kimberley has been married to her incredible husband for a quarter-of-a-century-and-counting and they have two adult children.

Transcript

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re now able to offer transcripts of our interviews! If you want to become a patron, click here to check it out!

Erin: Welcome listeners, welcome to The Deep. We are just so excited to be here with you because we’ve gone through gymnastics to make this podcast work, and we are going to talk more about that. It fits right in with our topic today, and we have a special guest with us, Kimberley Woodhouse. An amazing, prolific author and I’m going to let, of course, Karen introduce her because they’re buddies.

Karen: Kim and I met so many years ago, we were both about two. We met at an ACFW convention and discovered that we really clicked and enjoyed talking together. I met her daughter Kayla there as well. And in the course of that meeting and us getting to know each other—I was working for B&H Publishing Group at the time—and I knew that what I wanted was for Kim and Kayla to write some novels for me at B&H. And so, they did that, and it was wonderful, and we had so much fun together.

Kim has gone on to author a host of other books, and she is just an amazing writer, an amazing woman. She is a devoted wife and mother. She’s got her daughter Kayla, who has dealt with just an abundance of health issues, some very serious. Their son Josh, who has dealt with his own issues. It’s as though—if you looked at Kim through the world’s eyes—you would think this family was cursed. And yet the reality is they are so blessed. Because we know that these things are coming against them so that the enemy can derail their ministry.

They’ve been on a number of TV shows, including, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Ty Pennington and his group came in and built a wonderful home for them because of Kayla’s health issues. So, there’s just so much in Kim’s life that could have defeated her in her efforts to minister and to write, and yet because of her faith and trust in God, and the faith and trust that her husband had, they have overcome. And God has overcome through them. So, Kim, we are delighted to have you here to talk about what you can do when Satan just doesn’t let up.

Kim: Thank you for having me. It’s a privilege to be here today.

Erin: Yes, welcome Kim. And so, we always start the show talking about The Deep. The Deep means different things to different people. What do you think of when you think of The Deep? What would that mean to you, Kim?

Kim: I think it has several different meanings. In my own life, when I think of The Deep, I think of going deep in the Word and digging in the Word.

The Deep also means the pits, and sometimes the horrible stuff that we go through. And a lot of times when I speak around the country and share, I’ll say a little phrase and it’s like, you know, “God’s grace is always deeper than your lowest moment.” Because a lot of time we think we’re in The Deep in the worst possible part that we could be in, and yet God’s grace is always there. And knowing that it’s always deeper than we think, and we can handle or what we can go through. And so, it has, you know, different meanings for me in that way.

The Deep also means to me the depths of emotions and feelings and everything that God has given us for spiritual depth and not just being a surface-y Christian to show the world, “Oh hey, I’m a good person. I go to church on Sunday.” You know, but actually having that depth and the spiritual depth which I crave more and more, and I just really want to get all the way to The Deep. You know, no matter what trails, what junk accompanies that, I want to get all the way to The Deep.

Erin: I love that.

Karen: You know I think that’s one of the things that I respect the most about you Kim, and that I love most about you. It’s that when these difficult things have come in your life, what they’ve done is they’ve driven you to go deeper with God.

A lot of people would be derailed and be so discouraged by what happened that they might start to doubt God. But you find yourself going before God and going on your face before Him and digging in His Word to understand. And I think that’s one of the things that many of us lack is that awareness that when we hit these trials, these struggles, even these life-threatening situations that you guys have been in. When we hit those kind of things our first reaction seems to be, “Why?” But I’ve seen in you all these years, I’ve seen how it sends you to God and to His word.

So how do you think that that happened? What happened in you that conditioned you to do that, rather than to doubt and to scream why at the heavens?

Kim: I think a big first foundational stone for me is the fact that my dad is a pastor, and I was raised in a wonderful, wonderful Christian home. And I have an older brother and an older sister that helped model it for me as well.

But my dad used to often say when we were younger that you always knew if you weren’t doing what God wanted you to do, if you weren’t on track, because the enemy would leave you alone. So, it was a really good example for us to realize that, you know, things are not supposed to be smooth sailing. We’re not supposed to have life that’s a bowl of cherries all the time. And yes, the Lord blesses in huge ways and we have so much to be thankful for. But understanding that persecution and suffering are just going to be a part of our lives. And understanding that we should want that persecution and suffering because we know that we’re on the right track, that we’re doing what God has called us to do. Because this is not our home, this is not where we’re going to be. You know, we’re aliens of this world, that’s said over and over in Scripture.

Erin: Talk about some of the difficulties and challenges that you’ve had in case our listeners don’t know.

Kim: Well I’ll try to be really brief.

Erin: That should be part of the answer, people!

Kim: Karen knows a whole lot, well she probably knows everything out of our story, we’ve known each other so long. But she has walked this journey with me through a lot of it too and taught me some valuable lessons, so I have to say thank you for that, Karen.

Jeremy and I met at Bible college, and we knew that we were going to serve the Lord and be committed to put our lives to God in ministry, and so we knew that we were going into full-time ministry. And our son was born, and he almost died several times. He was a very sick baby. And then our daughter was born, and we thought, “Oh, she’s just a perfect, happy, healthy, sweet, little baby.” And Josh was the one—we always had to listen to his breathing and he was sick a lot.

And one day Kayla had a heat stroke when she was fourteen months old. And the doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on. Well, through years of lots of different doctors—actually around the country—they had to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and she was diagnosed with a really rare nerve disorder. She was three and a half, I believe, when that happened. And nobody had any answers. And the doctor who diagnosed her was a wonderful Christian man, and he sat in front of me and rolled his stool up really close because I had five million questions, and he said, “You know what? God made her this way, and we don’t know of any other kids in the world that actually have this at this moment in time that are living. But we’re going to do this together.” And he said, “You just remember that God is the great physician and He understands when nobody else does.”

Erin: Oh my.

Kim: So, over the years, there were a lot of health issues with Kayla. In fact, she had to have brain surgery at the age of nine for a completely different thing. And insurance companies wouldn’t touch us with a ten-foot pole back then because she was diagnosed with hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy. And so that first word, hereditary, flagged the whole family. We couldn’t get insurance. So, we owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and you know that’s just all part of it.

I told one hospital, “I’ll pay for this for the rest of my life. That’s fine. My daughter is worth it. And I really don’t care, I’m not taking any of this other stuff with me.” So, it’s okay.

Erin: Wow. And how is she doing now?

Kim: She’s absolutely wonderful now. I mean she still has the nerve disorder, and she still has a lot of health issues. She graduated with highest honors from the University of Colorado and is now in seminary studying to get her Master of Divinity in discipleship. She is just eating it up, you know, studying the Greek and the Hebrew and studying theology and just loving it.

So, she’s doing really well. It’s just a wonderful thing and I keep praising God for how He gave us this story, because it’s His story.

Karen: The remarkable thing, Kim, is knowing Kayla as I do and seeing the way that she has responded and reacted in all of this. This is a young lady who has an incredible grounding in her trust in God and an incredible grounding in her knowledge of God. It’s an intimate knowledge that has her so well anchored. I don’t care what else comes to her in life, she’s going to deal with it with the same grace and the same faith that you do, and that’s just an amazing thing.

In addition to that, you and Kayla wrote novels together, so you guys experienced the publishing world together. So, talk to us about how the struggles and all these kinds of attacks affected you in your writing journey.

Kim: Oh my, that’s a loaded question.

Karen: I know, that’s why I asked it!

Kim: Oh goodness. I feel like with every book, what I have to do is I really pray, and I dedicate that book to the Lord. It’s like, “Okay whatever You have for me, whatever words You have for me, because it’s not my story, it’s Your story. Whatever You’d have me do, You just do that through me.”

And every single book, I think I’m on book twenty now—I think that’s the one I’m writing at the moment. And every single one of these books has had some horrific catastrophe, you know, something happened in the middle of it. Whether it be technology, whether it be family, whether it be like last year, I almost died and was in the hospital and it was in the middle of a book and just some real craziness.

Karen: I’m going to interrupt you just for a minute. I remember when you sent me a text and an e-mail, and you let me know everything that was going on and the struggles, and your biggest concern was that you were on deadline. I was like, “Kim, you’re in the hospital. They’re afraid you’re going to die, and you’re worried about your deadline?”

Erin: I think that’s a first, Kim. No one has ever been on the podcast and gone, “Well, I almost died in my last book.”

Kim: Oh well that book—I know I’m kind of changing gears, but that book, was a few books ago, but it was Out of the Ashes. And it was one that Tracie Peterson and I wrote for Bethany House. When we had planned the series, obviously we had no idea what was going to happen to me in the middle of it. But even what we had plotted out and in our long synopsis to write. So, as I was writing this book, it really became out of the ashes for me because our characters had gone through just some horrible dark, dark, dark, dark times.

We have had so much response from this book. Not only because of the dedication and how we wrote about what we went through, through the writing of the book, but then how God translated that onto the page, and made the story what He wanted it to be. Truly a story of grace and transformation and how God can take all the broken shattered pieces of your life and make something beautiful out of it.

And so, the privilege of writing with Kayla was just absolutely wonderful, and we’ve talked about doing more, you know, once she’s done with school. She’s had to write five million papers for all of her—she was an English lit major so, she wrote paper after paper after paper.

Karen: She really is a remarkable writer. She writes a blog too as do you.

Kim: Yeah, and she’s brilliant. I think even if God just had me on this journey for her to write, I don’t know, but you know, praise God for what He’s done. So yeah, It’s amazing each time how we grow and learn even through the darkest of moments. I mean I’ve even had my computer, one time, get a spider virus and shut down, and I lost half of a manuscript. Karen probably remembers that one quite well.

Karen: I do. I remember that very well.

Kim: But it was neat to see how God used that. And in the re-writes. And it’s all to bring glory to His name. I am just so thankful. I am so thankful for every yucky, hard, terrible, awful thing that we’ve had to go through. Because I’ve grown, and I think that’s what I’m supposed to do.

Erin: What keeps you going, though, practically, Kim? How do you practically get your mind and your heart right to put your rear end in the chair and write when you’re constantly pummeled?

Kim: That’s a really good question. For me, I’ll tell you what I’ve kind of settled on in the past decade. I love Bible study, and I’ve gotten more and more in-depth in that. But the challenge that I have had is not just in doing an inductive or a deep Bible study, but just spending time in the Word each day. So, what I do right now—I’ve been doing the past three years—is I’m reading through the Bible seven times every year.

So, every fifty-two days I go through the entire word of God. And I do that first, and that, I believe, is my foundation. That is my first little step each day. Because I can’t believe—and I’ve spent a lot of time in the Word throughout my life, you know, full-time ministry has been all of my forty-five plus however old I am years. I don’t even know how old I am at the moment. But spending this time, doing this every fifty-two days, it’s such a large chunk that I’m reading. And what I started doing about a year and a half ago is I got a chronological, one-year Bible and so I do seven days a day. But it’s neat because the context, and all the Scripture backing up Scripture, because all the Scripture that winds up with one another in the chronological Bible is put together. So, reading that huge chunk I feel like I’m just getting so much more out of it.

And then my husband and I, he’s also a pastor. So, my second step there is that Jeremy and I—he is absolutely amazing, we’ve been married twenty-seven years this year—and we spend time together each day praying and talking about what the Lord is teaching us and what we’re learning. And we know that we’ve got to keep our relationship first, you know, after our relationship with God. And so, putting that in the right perspective and knowing that we’ve got to hold each other up.

You know, we went to a conference years ago and they had done this assessment of pastors and wives. They had given us the statistic that ninety-seven percent of all families—marriages that have a special needs child or a sick child or a child with cancer, whatever—end in divorce. And that was horrifying to hear and very startling for us.

You know, at the time we laughed, and my husband said, “Well, we’re both too stubborn to give up.” Which is true. But understanding that we have to put that marriage first. Because anybody who’s in ministry understands that often times, you know, the church, people, need you. It would be easy to put that marriage relationship on the back burner. So that’s kind of my second step. My husband and I, that comes before everything else.

Karen: And see, those practical things are so important for writers as well. Because we’re in a ministry in writing with God and to not let our writing come before being in depth in the Bible and time with God and time with our spouses and our families, that’s really important.

Kim: It is.

Karen: We’re coming to the end of our time together, it happens so fast. It’s been so much fun to listen to you. Do you have any final words of wisdom for our listeners? For these writers out there who are maybe feeling that the enemy has made them his own special project, and he just keeps coming after them, one hit after another—any special words of wisdom for them?

Kim: I think I would say first, you know, get in the Word. Then I would say it is a discipline to write. This is a job, something that we do, and it’s a job that God has given us, so we do have to get that rear end in the chair. It’s not just “write whenever you feel the whimsy and you feel happy and everything’s going the right way.” I would never get anything done, because I never have those kind of days.

Karen: I know, me neither.

Kim: But in 1st Peter, hopefully I’ll get the verses right, but it’s in the first chapter of 1st Peter and they’re talking about this great inheritance in salvation that we have which is imperishable, and the whole book of first Peter talks about suffering. But in, I think it’s verse six, maybe five or six, and he says, “In this”—and he’s talking about our salvation that’s imperishable—“in this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold, which is perishable even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” And it makes me giggle when I say, “Even though now for a little while, if necessary.”

Erin: That is 1st Peter 1:6, you’re right.

Kim: Oh good, I got it right.

Karen: How wonderful that He gives us that and saying, “Even now if necessary…” almost tongue in cheek, because He knows how stubborn we are and how inclined we are to get off the path that He has given us. Then He reminds us of the purpose of the suffering and of the blessing and of the fact that we are glorifying Him. And as you said at the very beginning, this isn’t our home. We have Him here with us to go through this foreign land. And to do it with grace and faith and a sense of joy.

Kim, you’ve been wonderful. You’ve shared great truths with us, and we appreciate it. We’ll have to have you come back and talk some more because I know you’ve got a lot more to say. But thank you so much for being with us today.

Erin: Yes, thank you, Kim.

Kim: Thank you so much.

BOOKS

Out of the Ashes co-written with Tracie Peterson, mentioned in the podcast

The Patriot Bride – Kimberley’s latest release

We want to hear from you!

How has God proved Himself faithful when you’ve faced the enemy?

Tweetable

“God’s grace is always deeper than your lowest moment.” @kimwoodhouse

Ever felt like you’ve become one of Satan’s special projects? @kimwoodhouse shares hope!

Special Thanks

We’re grateful to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Wendy L. MacDonald! Find out more about Wendy at wendylmacdonald.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

Please share!
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079 – Integrity: Your Life Preserver in Turbulent Waters

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young Integrity: Your Life Preserver in Turbulent Waters Write from the Deep Podcast

The world is in turmoil. So many people saying and doing so many things that are harmful, mean-spirited, or just plain deceitful. Even believers have given in and taken on the world’s moral drift. So what will help us rise above all that? One word: Integrity.

If you’re paying any attention to current events right now, you’ve seen that issues of moral integrity are in the spotlight. If we think we’ll never have to face such issues, we’re kidding ourselves. We are all human, and all prone to temptation. And those who think they aren’t? They’re usually the ones who fall farthest and hardest.

Integrity (New Oxford American Dictionary)

  1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
  2. The state of being whole and undivided.
  3. The condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.

What is the difference between reputation and integrity?

  • People can besmirch your reputation; only you can ruin your integrity.
  • Reputation is your public persona; integrity is personal.
  • Reputation is what people see; integrity is who you are when no one’s looking.
  • If your reputation is destroyed, it can be rebuilt. If your integrity is destroyed, the only way back is through God’s grace and restoration.

What does Scripture have to say about integrity?

“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.” Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.” Proverbs 2:6-8 (NASB)

“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT)

We need to be so grounded in God’s truth that the moment we start to take a misstep the alarm is sounded by the Holy Spirit.

Temptations we Face as Writers

Temptation to treat people better based on what they can do for you.

Editors, agents, speakers—they are business people who know what they’re doing, but they’re just ordinary folks. Don’t see them as more than they are. Have respect for them, sure, but when it comes to putting someone up on a pedestal, there’s only one worthy.

Think about Isaiah 2:22:

“Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?”

Again, we’re not saying don’t respect them. But only God is worthy of our adoration and esteem. The rest of us are just fellow sojourners. So let’s treat each other as such:

  • With kindness and encouragement
  • With the truth that we’re all here to glorify God, not ourselves or even each other
  • Without pre-judgement of what someone can or can’t do for us, because everyone has value. For example, the newest writer can say something that gives new insight to a veteran. It’s just as important to not treat people worse because of a perception that they can’t do anything for us.

Temptation to fudge the facts in our books.

Embrace Ephesians 4:21-25 (NLT): “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.”

When Karen wrote The Breaking Point, there was a temptation to make herself look better. To clean up her negative actions and emotions. But honesty gave that book power. Erin had the same situation. In Surviving Henry, she had to write things about herself that weren’t pretty. But they were honest. And that’s what people connect to.

Embrace integrity by:

  • Submitting your story to God and asking Him what to include and not include
  • Speaking the truth about yourself and your weaknesses and about God’s work of refining you through it all
  • Speaking the truth about others, and about God’s work of refining in YOU (because, again it’s you, not that other guy with the problem)

Temptation to fudge the facts of our success.

This comes in the form of things like taking on the title of “bestseller” when you’re not. Or embellishing your sales figures… “Oh, my books have sold in the neighborhood of 40K.” But that’s not really your neighborhood. That’s not even your neighboring city. In fact, that neighborhood is halfway across the country.

Embrace Integrity by:

  • Being honest about your numbers. It’s God who has given you everything, from the message to the numbers, and it’s His choice what happens with your books.
  • Being grateful for whatever God does with your writing

Temptation to make strategic “friendships.”

Friendship is not based on what people can do for you, but on loving and serving others. For example, don’t be like the person who goes to a writers’ conference or group with the intent of targeting the important people. You’re doing yourself and others a disservice when you target people for strategic friendships. And you’re missing out on the friendships God has for you.

Embrace integrity in friendships by:

  • Seeking to serve, rather than be served
  • Being open to God’s leading
  • Seeing through God’s eyes

Temptation to play as the world does in our encounters or work with others.

When we’re surrounded by people who think the way we do, who understand what it is to be a writer, that’s a heady thing. Maybe we’re working with a collaborator, mentor, or critique partner, or maybe we’re at a writers group or conference. It’s so easy to connect with someone who “gets us.” Or who admires us. Or to connect with someone whom we admire. And it’s easy to have that connection slip, just a tad, into waters where we have no business wading, as the world saw from the PW article about sexual misconduct, and even sexual abuse, at Christian writers conferences.

You MUST treat everyone you meet with integrity. Ladies, treat every man you meet as your brother or your son or your father. Men, treat the women you encounter as sisters or daughters or mothers. Put a safeguard on your emotions and tongue.

You have the right to tell others if anything makes you uncomfortable. Anything. Ask the Spirit to give you discernment, to let you know when you need to draw a line.

Embrace integrity in encounters by:

  • Following Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  • Following 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (selected verses, NLT): “3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. …6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. …10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”
  • Creating a covenant with your spouse, or if not married, a trusted friend, parent, or pastor to guide your behavior in encounters. Agree on boundaries for physical contact with others, conditions on time alone, topics that are okay to address, caution words, behaviors, or feelings. Make sure you have a response pre-planned for when/if any triggers appear. When something happens that takes us by surprise, when we get a sense that something’s off, that’s not the time to try and figure out what to do. Have a “script,” so to speak, for how you’ll handle things.
  • Find someone at the conference who will keep you accountable, and share your boundaries with that person. Tell them to call you on ANYTHING that seems to cross those boundaries.
  • Ask God to give you a clear warning when you start to cross any boundaries.
  • If something feels off or wrong, pray about it. If it’s clear the behavior/speech is inappropriate, take it to someone on faculty or leadership of the conference or a leader in the group.
We want to hear from you!

What strategies have you found for maintaining integrity?

Tweetable

With the world in turmoil, hold fast to an anchor that won’t fail: Integrity.

Special thanks

We’re grateful to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Wendy L. MacDonald! Find out more about Wendy at wendylmacdonald.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

Please share!
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