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095 – The Spiritual Side of Agenting with Guest Cynthia Ruchti

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The Spiritual Side of Agenting with Guest Cynthia Ruchti Write from the Deep Podcast

 

We’ve all heard about agents, and how they guide us in our careers and fight for us with publishers. But did you realize that many agents cover everything they do in prayer? From reading proposals to deciding on clients to determining which publishers are a good fit to every aspect of their clients’ lives. Our guest, literary agent Cynthia Ruchti, joins us to share about an agent’s spiritual walk.

About Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through award-winning novels, nonfiction, devotions, and through speaking events for women and writers. As a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management, she helps other authors fulfill their publishing goals. She and her grade school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin.

Thanks to our patrons on Patreon, we can now provide an edited transcript of our interview!

Karen: Hey everyone, welcome to the deep today. We’re so glad that you’re here and that you get to share time not just with us but with our amazing guest Cynthia Ruchti!

Erin: Yes, and I get to introduce her, everybody. I just want you all to know that! I met Cynthia Ruchti at a writers’ conference somewhere along the way. What impacted me the most was her heart for God. She was doing a short devotional, I think, and then she was leading a worship song. Let me tell you something. You can tell a lot about a person when they’re singing to God. And I knew she was a woman I wanted to get to know better.

Cynthia Ruchti draws on 33 years writing and producing an on air radio broadcast to tell stories hemmed in hope through her more then 25 award-winning books and her speaking. She’s the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers and, get this, since 2017, she’s also served as a literary agent with Books and Such Literary Management. Cynthia and her plot-tweaking husband—I love that—live in the heart of Wisconsin not far from their three children and five grandchildren. Cynthia, welcome!

Cynthia: Thank you so much. I’m going to have to change that bio a little, pretty soon, because we have a sixth grandchild. We don’t know if it’s a grandson or granddaughter, who will be born in August.

Karen: Congratulations!

Cynthia: We like changing our bios to have more books listed. We also like changing our bios to have more grandchildren listed.

Karen: The only thing I can list is when I get more dogs, so there you go.

Cynthia: More dogs also works!

Karen: Cynthia, as you know, we talk about the deep here on our podcast. Erin has her definition of the deep and I have mine. But we like to ask our guests when they’re here what that term, the deep, means to them. So, Cynthia, what does the deep mean to you?

Cynthia: For me, a lot of it has to do with getting beneath the surface. Whether that means going beneath the façade that we sometimes, not even intentionally, present to others, or going beneath the surface of the activity we are involved in, to get to the heart of why we’re doing what we’re doing.

But getting beyond the surface in our relationships, too. Primarily our relationship with God. We can do a lot of surface activity with God. But the deep, deep work with God often can have its painful moments. It has a depth of joy that can’t be shaken with what’s happening on the surface.

I ran into a passage of Scripture this morning. About the beginning of the year I’d asked God, as many others do, what’s my word for the year? Or my verse for the year? What is that? Am I going to have one this year or not? One year it was brave, and it turned out I needed bravery that whole year. One year it was rest, and I spent the whole year avoiding it.

And this past year I didn’t think I had a word that was going to carry through the year until I heard the word pilgrimage. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I really sensed that’s what He intended. You may have had experiences like that, too, where you weren’t even sure why He was saying that. Psalm 84 has a verse in the Bible that contains that word. I looked first to the Word because that’s the best place to go to figure out what God has in mind, and it was that verse about “happy are those whose hearts are always set on pilgrimage.”

I still didn’t know what that meant. And I still don’t. Here we are this far into the year, and I’m still not 100% sure about that. But I read that verse in another version, and that other version led me around to deep, which is kind of a skewed way of getting there. That verse in the Passion version said, “How enriched are those who find their strength in the Lord, within their hearts are the highways of holiness—or, that heart set on pilgrimage. Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain.”

That spoke to me as if to say, pilgrimage, yeah, that was just a means of getting you to that verse. It was the driving force to get you to that verse, which I’m still pondering on. But that is what we do. That is how God wants us to live. “Even when their paths wind through a dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain.”

Karen: That’s amazing.

Erin: The hard thing is we’re digging through that pain. We’re digging into that pain. It’s not like when we dig, it hurts less. I think it hurts more until we find that pool. And that is very counterintuitive. You have to trust that that pool of joy and of deep with God is going to be there.

Karen: Right.

Erin: one of the reasons why I was so interested to have you on the podcast, Cynthia, is because of a conversation you and I were having when we were at Mount Hermon. We were talking about you being an agent now for these past couple years. Tell us a little bit about that transition, when you went from author—and I know you’re still writing—and now you’re being an agent. How is that going for you?

Cynthia: I love every minute of it, even the hard parts, so you know that God’s presence is in the middle of it. And He’s teaching me things even in the difficulties that come with agenting. And there are always difficulties, because helping people get their books published is a winding, twisting path that sometimes has grave disappointments in it. And it’s always hard, it’s always difficult. It’s never easy or there wouldn’t be a need for an agent.

Erin: Wait, wait. You’re saying the agents actually feel disappointed, right? It’s not just the writers. There’s a revelation!

Cynthia: Can you imagine? Yes. There is often that! In fact, because we take on these clients as coming alongside them in their journey, we really are feeling what they feel. We have volunteered to feel what they feel when they’re going through all of this.

The transition part of it was, of course, a deep learning experience for me. Because as much as I thought I knew by being in the industry for a while, as much as I thought I knew from being on the author side of things, there was so much from the agent side of things.

One of the things that was a great joy to me was that I knew that Books and Such Literary Management—where I’m an agent—I knew it was a place of integrity. And there are several of those strong places of integrity and agencies within Christian publishing. And there are others where it’s not as visible or not as sure.

Erin: Right.

Cynthia: When I got behind the scenes with Books and Such and saw that that integrity ran deeper than I ever knew, that it wasn’t just a façade, that there was a depth to that level of integrity that ran way deep, even behind the scenes, that made me more sure than ever that the decision was a good one to become part of that team. And to root for other people’s projects with more ferocity even than my own.

Karen: I think that one of my greatest revelations while I was an agent was the fact that I, too, had been in the industry—I had led fiction programs for four of the major Christian publishers, I’d negotiated contracts from the publishers side—but it’s so different when you’re going not just as a negotiator but as an advocate. You’re trying to make sure that the marriage that you’re creating between publisher and client is one that will benefit both sides. And yet at times you have to be the tiger and fight for your client against people that you really love and trust. It’s learning how to be a champion, an advocate, and a warrior all in one fell swoop.

Cynthia: Karen, that is such a good description of it. And it really is true that we’re not an “us against them.”

Karen: No.

Cynthia: Really, who benefits is the reader. If we do our work well, and we make that good marriage, and we pair people’s projects with the best possible publisher for them, who benefits the most is the reader, who gets the opportunity to read that novel or to read that nonfiction and be moved and changed by it.

So it really is that we’re out for that win-win, for making sure we’re doing the best and the highest level of excellence both for our author and for the publishing house, knowing that the end result is the reader is matched with words from God’s heart.

Karen: So let’s talk some about how the spiritual side of things impacts all of that. I know that sometimes it’s a little hard for authors to see that agents are really just plain old people. You know the image that’s out there of a literary agent is a blood sucking person going to get everything they can out of the author.

That’s completely fallacious, especially where the Christian agents are concerned, the agencies like you talk about that have the integrity, like Books and Such, and the Steve Laube Agency, all of that. So talk about the spiritual side of things, because I think our listeners need to understand that agents steep things in prayer, and I’m not sure that they realize that.

Cynthia: I think that’s a good point. In fact Erin and I were talking about this also at one of the conferences that we attended. It’s probably not known, because it’s not necessarily visible, the depth and the level of prayer labor that we spend even in deciding if we’re going to represent a client or not.

We can have someone with a great story, great personality, a wonderful platform, and we still make it a matter of prayer. It’s not an automatic. Partly because it is that marriage, that care of a relationship. And we’re looking for an author who’ll have a career, that we can accompany them through that career through thick and thin. We’re looking into character. We’re looking to make sure, are we on the same page?

But we’re also needing and depending so heavily on the discerning of the Holy Spirit. If we are walking by the Spirit, that covers everything we do in the business and the relationship side of agenting as well. We are praying over things as we’re looking at a manuscript and looking at a potential client. We’re looking to strengthen the manuscript and to strengthen that client’s hand in God at the same time.

There are often times I’ll be looking at a project that looks good on the surface, and I’ll have just this hesitation. And I’m not sure even where the hesitation is coming from. As I pray about it and refuse to just react instantaneously from what looks like it might be a good business decision, or what looks like I might be able to offer something to that client, or what looks like it might be a good partnership, oftentimes I wait until I have the green light from the Lord. Clearly a green light from the Lord.

We can try to manipulate answers. We can try to manipulate relationships. That rarely works. We can try to massage something out of a message that isn’t there. That rarely works either. We want to make sure that we’re on the same page, so to speak, in all ways. That our hearts are pointed in the same direction.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that every client I represent is a duplicate of the kind of things I would write.

Karen: Right.

Cynthia: I’m often representing things that are very different from what I would want to write. Sometimes it’s even different from what I want to read. But I know as I pray about it that it’s something the readers need to see or hear or consider.

Karen: That will speak to somebody. That will speak to their hearts and their spirits in their own journey in Christ.

Cynthia: So true. I had a doctor when I was battling lyme disease back too many years ago to mention. It sounds like a completely different century. Oh yeah, it was a different century! It was a year and a half before my doctor figured out that it was lyme disease that I had. And it was eight doctors that I had been through in this search, of all different kinds. They told me at one time that if you have a disease with fourteen symptoms, they send you to the psych department automatically because no disease has fourteen symptoms. And I had thirteen, and one I didn’t want to tell them about.

Through all of that process we got to the end of it, and it was my doctor, my godly internal medicine doctor, who was the person who discovered the answer, and we could begin the treatment that lasted again forever because it had had such a hold in my life by that time, in my body by that time.

But I found out later in the game, his medical assistant took me aside and told me every time I came in to see the doctor—and it was sometimes once a month with a new symptom, yet another symptom, another round of tests—he would go back to his office after I left, put his head in his hands, and say, “God I know it’s something, I just don’t know what it is yet. Will you please reveal what it is?”

Even though it took that long, I’m so grateful that it was that man through whom God wanted to bring that answer. Probably because he may have been one of the only ones of all those physicians who was seeking his answer from God not just from the medical tests.

So I apply that in agenting and think that’s part of my role, too. I sit with my head in my hands, or figuratively on my knees to say God how can this best be used. How can this be tweaked. How can this be edited, or changed, or a new title or subtitle or something that will bring this to the place where it needs to be so that it can reach who it needs to reach. In addition to that, I know I’m talking a lot here…

Karen: No, that’s good!

Cynthia: In addition to that is the aspect that we pray and care about our clients. If our clients are going through something personally, we want to know about it, because we are a prayer advocate as well. It’s not just because they might not make their deadline. It’s because we really do care about our clients and spend a lot of time praying that their lives will be transformed through their writing as much as their writing will help transform others.

Erin: Right. It’s so interesting, Cynthia, I don’t know how many writers out there really understand the degree to which this partnership happens. There is so much that you’re doing in the background that might not be noticed. What do you think, though, is one of the biggest challenges spiritually to being an agent?

Cynthia: I think I’m new enough at this that I’m not battling pride like I might if I were further down the road. I had a big major spiritual breakthrough not long ago, though, when I negotiated for one of my clients a contract I would’ve loved to have had for myself. And then the next week there was another one, where I was able to secure for a different client a contract I would’ve loved to have had for myself with the publisher I would have loved to have worked for or with.

The interesting part of that was my heart was full of joy. It’s almost as if the Lord had to remind me, “You know, that’s one you would’ve loved to have had.” The reason he had to remind me was because he had been working so hard at getting me where I needed to be so that I would rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, where we as a body would celebrate each others’ victories with no thought to receiving anything in return. No thought as to what that might mean to us.

Those were some really sweet moments. I say them now, and say them out loud, publicly here, because that’s what I want to remain. I don’t want to ever get to a place where it’s all business. Or where I’m making decisions according to what it will mean for a paycheck. As most people know, an agent often works for years and years and years and makes nothing. This is what we signed up for. This is what we decided we would do. But I know and have observed other agents who seem like they’re—I don’t want this to be offensive to any person, or for any person to see themselves in this unless God intends them to…

Karen: You know who you are out there…

Cynthia: That they would just want to build clientele. Just build clientele. That they would want to reach certain sales goals for the sake of the money, as opposed to for the sake of the Kingdom or for the sake even of making sure that we’re doing everything with excellence, and pushing ourselves to raise the bar of excellence constantly in what we do.

So that was a real stark reminder to me. Thank you, Lord, that it was in a gentle way that You did it, to remind me that’s where I want my heart to be. That if I’m able to get contracts for my clients that caused my heart to sing, that’s the real beauty in at all.

Spiritually, the hard part of being an agent is oftentimes balancing time. For those of us like Karen, who’s been in a place where you’ve been agenting and authoring at the same time, we understand that balancing time or where or which is the biggest bonfire that we have to put out at the moment, or the needs never cease, and the workload isn’t logical. It’s not the kind where—I visited Denmark just a little bit ago and their intention is that the workday ends at four or 4:30 so that everyone can go be with their families for supper, and they locked their computers away in the workplace so that you’re not tempted to work in the evening, when your husband is say watching another baseball game.

Karen: Yeah.

Cynthia: Something like that. So that part of it is an issue that I’m wrestling with the Lord all the time about: “What do you want me to do at this moment? Not just what’s on my to-do list for the day, but at this moment, which is the thing I need to attend to, according to your will Lord, not my agenda?”

Erin: You mentioned something earlier about the deep. You talked a little bit about knowing your why, in a sense. Going deep enough to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. I’m curious, why did you decide to become an agent?

Cynthia: Like everything else in my life, God decided for me and left me no option. So I wrote and produced this radio broadcast for 33 years and prior to that I worked in a chemistry lab. I thought that was what I was going to do with my life. I retired from that to care for my toddler children when they were young. I took a correspondence course in creative writing just to keep my mind active with something other than caring for children, and dirty diapers, and the latest updates on which diaper is the best.

The last assignment for that particular course that I took, which happened to have been the Christian Writers Institute at the time, was to write a script for a 15-minute radio broadcast, which I thought was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard of. I knew there were half hour hour and hour broadcasts. There were two minutes broadcasts, and I had no interest at all. At all.

So I procrastinated on that assignment for eight or nine months maybe. I finally did the assignment just so I could get my certificate to say I completed the course. Two weeks after I got my certificate a woman came to speak to the Christian women’s clubs in our area, the Stonecroft clubs, and they needed somebody to help her with her luggage and to sing in between her speaking points. I volunteered because they had already found a babysitter for my two-year old, so how could I say no. During that time the woman said she had just been given 15 minutes of free air time on a radio station that was about to go on the air. I said, “That’s very nice.”

Still had no interest. But at the end of our four days together, instead of her responding to my offer to search for some Scriptures that would go with her theme for the day, or perhaps look up some poems that would fit with what she was talking about, she handed me the address of the station and said, “Send the first program here.”

Erin: Wow.

Cynthia: And I had just told the Lord, “I’ll go wherever you want me to go. I’ll do whatever you want me to do.” He said, “Did you mean it?”

So with no experience, and no training, and no equipment, and no anything, nine months later that radio station went on the air and our first broadcast went on the air, and it was on continuously for 33 years. At the end it was five days a week, Monday through Friday, of these scripted broadcasts. The first half was fiction, musical interlude. The second half was devotional thoughts about that slice of life scene from everyday life.

So when Janet Grant from Books and Such called me one day a couple years ago and said, “Have you ever considered being an agent?” I said, “Nope. Uh-uh. Nope. Nope. Oh dear, I think I’m going to have to pray about it.”

When I told my husband, I was sure his answer was going to be, “You’re not going to do one more thing.” Instead he said, “Don’t you think God has been grooming you for this?”

The end result of our praying together about it and talking about it was that I said yes to God because I know no other answer to give Him.

Karen: There’s no other answer that makes any sense because if you say no it’s a big mistake.

Cynthia: Big, big mistake. I’m smart enough to know that. So anyway that was it. And the adventure of it has been so wonderful. As I’ve said, I’ve not only loved it, but I love the people that I work with. I love the people in the industry.

I’ve had some opportunities over the past years to grow in deeply caring about retailers and publishers and editors and marketing people as well as the authors. I think God has used that all because He’s giving me an empathy for all sides in this mishmash called publishing.

Erin: Yeah.

Karen: Well, Cynthia, thank you so much for taking the time to spend with us and to share your experience and give us some insights into the spiritual walk that agents have. And also just into the ways that God deals with us no matter what career path we’re on. The ways that He leads us and guides us. I love how specific He is to speak into our lives His truth in the ways that we can hear, whether what we need is a gentle reprimand like you got, or if it’s something just a little bit harder for those of us who are maybe a little bit too strong-willed. I really appreciate the time that you spent with us and we look forward to maybe having you on again.

Erin: Yeah!

Cynthia: I would love that. Thank you so much.

Erin: Thanks, Cynthia.

Cynthia’s not just an agent, but an author as well! Here’s her latest release:

Miles from Where we Started by Cynthia Ruchti

Miles from Where we Started by Cynthia Ruchti

We want to hear from you!

Did you know many agents wrestle in prayer as they make decisions about your manuscript? What do you think about that?

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Did you know agents pray for you and your writing career? Join guest @CynthiaRuchti to hear about it.

THANK YOU!

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

Special thank you to our June sponsor of the month, Stacy McLain. Watch for her first book, Make Known His Path, a Christian speculative novel, to be released sometime this summer!

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

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094 – Spiritual Footholds: The Danger of Discontent

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Danger of Discontent Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young

When God has given us a task, like writing, it’s imperative we keep our focus on Him and His purposes. Because the second we don’t, we may very well be creating a foothold for the enemy of our souls to gain access to our hearts and spirits. Come discover how to protect yourself from the spiritual foothold of discontent.

In Ephesians 4:27, we’re warned: “…do not give the devil a foothold” (NIV). The NASB says it this way: “…do not give the devil an opportunity.” But what does that mean?

What kind of opportunities, or footholds might we, as writers, give the enemy? And if we discover we’ve done that, how do we get rid of these footholds?

What is a spiritual foothold?

A place where a person’s foot can be lodged to support them securely, especially while climbing.

There’s also this definition: a position providing a base for further efforts to advance (as in a military invasion).

A spiritual foothold is a place in your heart and spirit where you give the enemy an in, where he can be lodged and supported, where he can be secure in his work to bring you down. The longer you allow it, the more it becomes the “base,” so to speak, where the enemy makes progress in his effort to undermine God’s work in your life, impacting your emotional, spiritual, and even physical well-being.

Once you give in to the temptation to go against God’s guidance, it becomes that much easier to tempt you to do so again and again. And for you to give in.

When we allow destructive tendencies into our hearts and minds, they work very much like water does on sand or dirt. They erode the stability of your foundation of faith. Think about building a sandcastle on the beach. The tide comes in and your castle collapses.

Once that happens, you’ve opened the door to more footholds being created within you. It’s a vicious cycle.

We’re going to address some of the most common footholds for writers. Those places where we too often are weak and vulnerable, and give in just long enough to give the devil an opportunity.

Foothold #1: Discontent

We’re starting with this foothold because it’s sneaky. It’s the kind of thing that creeps inside us in little, seemingly harmless ways, but once it gains a foothold, it’s pervasive. It can color everything we do and think.

What is discontent?

Discontent is lack of contentment; dissatisfaction with your circumstances. For writers in particular, it’s being discontent with our career. Thinking we “deserve” more or that things “should be different.”

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Am I discontent? How do I know?” Here are some things to watch for:

Signs of Discontent

1.  Grumbling

This can be grumbling against God, or publishers, or marketers, or sales teams, or readers: anyone or anything that is, in your mind, hindering your “success as a writer.” You’re grumbling about the things people do, the things they say, how hard it is to write, how your back hurts, how your computer is too slow, how Amazon’s algorithm is messing with your sales, or whatever.

Ultimately, if God gave you this task, these are grumblings against God, because He’s not making sure things happen the way you want Him to.

2.  Jealousy

“I’m a better writer than ______ so why don’t I have the sales he does?”

“Why did she win that award? My book is way better!”

“Why did that agent pick him up when I’ve got a much better platform?”

3.  Exaggeration

Exaggeration is trying to make more of yourself, your work, your success than is true. Let’s call this what it is: lying. It may start small. I mean, who is it going to hurt if I say I sold more books than I really sold? But one small lie doesn’t stay small. Lies have a way of growing and spreading, until one day you find yourself having to tell lie after lie to keep the illusion going. Bottom line: God won’t honor lies.

4.  Demeaning Others

“That writer is a hack, but I guess that’s what readers want because they don’t know any better.”

“Publishers won’t take a chance on me because my books tell the truth, I don’t sugarcoat it.”

If we allow ourselves to put others down in an effort to build ourselves up, we’re not just walking, but we’re running into sin.

We’re ignoring Scripture like Philippians 2:1-4. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

We’re all on the same team. We want God to be glorified, and people’s lives to be changed. Let yourself demean someone else, and you’re providing one heck of a foothold for the enemy.

5.  Despair

”I’ll never be as good as __________”

“Why do I even try?”

“What made me think I could do this?”

Four sources of Discontent

1. Unrealized or Unadmitted Expectations

When we start our journey as writers, we often don’t even realize the expectations that dwell within us. But as things don’t go our way, as awards go to other writers, as contracts don’t materialize, as sales fail, rejections pile up, or whatever, deep inside the grumbling starts.

“If I’d known it would be like this, I never would have tried.”

“What’s wrong with me or my writing?”

“Why don’t I have a book contract yet?” Notice how that statement reveals my expectation that I would get a contract? On my timeline? But when God gives us a task, He rarely tells us the outcome, we’re just supposed to be faithful.

“Why does this have to be so hard? If God wanted me to write, it wouldn’t be so hard!” Well, guess what? Under that statement is a giveaway of my expectation: that doing what God wants me to do is somehow easy. HA!

When you’re feeling discontent, you’ve got to dig deeper to figure out what’s going on. Do a check on your expectations and if they’re not in line with God’s Word, then realign them.

2. Thinking You’re Not Living up to Others’ Expectations

We’ve all heard it from someone—family, friends, even strangers who find out we’re writers: “Are you a best-seller?” “Would I know any of your books?” or that soul-crushing “When are you going to get a real job?”

3. Comparison to Other Writers’ Work or Careers

One of the most damaging things you can do to yourself on your writing journey is take your eyes off of God and plant them squarely on other writers. Looking at their success and making that a measurement of your own success.

4. Entitlement

Entitlement is thinking you “deserve” more. After all, we’re spending all this time and money and effort, we’re spilling our guts in our books, we’re doing everything God has asked, so where’s the return?

This can motivate us to go to extreme measures to achieve what we think we deserve. Folks, that’s striking it out on your own. That’s your own plan, not God’s.

Sometimes our extreme measures are even at the expense of others. You end up seeing other writers as a threat to your deserved success. Again, we’re all on the same team.

Scriptural Warnings Regarding the Foothold of Discontent

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Our “race” is already marked out by God. What we do, how well we do, what becomes of our writing, that’s in His hands. Yes, we need to work toward excellence, but with the purpose of  bringing glory to Him, not to ourselves.

”Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6

Think about why this verse starts with: “Keep your lives free from the love of money…” Money is a nice thing to have, but we’re supposed to love God first, God most. God is our treasure. Money comes and goes. God stays with us always and forever. Nothing can separate us from Him or His great love for us. That’s our treasure.

We’re not just warned against discontent with God, but against discontent that focuses on or is aimed at others:

“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” James 5:9

Then there’s Psalm 78. The entire psalm is about God’s people, right on the heels of His provision and protection, grumbling against Him. Not because He didn’t care for them, but because He didn’t care for them in the way they thought He should. Because they didn’t get their way. Or they didn’t get what they wanted when they wanted it.

Rather than focusing on God’s goodness and miraculous provision, they grew discontent, and allowed that to move them to slandering God.

If we’re honest, we have to admit that most of us have, at some time on our writing journey, been dogged by the demon of discontent.

“I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11b-13

We’ve read those words many times. I’d venture to say we’ve read them so often we gloss over them. “Yeah, yeah, Paul was content no matter what.” In fact, it’s far more likely that we are saying, deep in our hearts, “We have learned, in whatever state we are, therewith to be discontent.” Because what we’re going through is so much harder or more or whatever than anything Paul faced.

But folks, think for a moment what, exactly, Paul endured. His path, if you will, to contentment involved being:

  • Whipped five times, each time receiving forty lashes
  • Beaten at least 3 times with rods
  • Stoned in Lystra and left for dead
  • Shipwrecked 3 times
  • Being beaten in Philippi and thrown in to prison
  • In, as he says in 2 Corinthians 11, “in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

And us? What exactly are we discontent about? That our sales are low? That our manuscript got rejected?

Then there’s the fact that, right after Paul’s amazing conversion, the Jews plotted to kill him when he spoke in Jerusalem against the Hellenists. The Jews in Antioch persecuted Paul and banned him from their region.

So with all that in mind, let’s read Philippians again:

“I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11b-13

Five Cures for Discontent

Trust

Trust that God has a plan for you and your writing. That He knows what’s best. That He has HIS purpose and timeline for you and your work, and whatever that is, it will be far more wonderful that what you want.

Focus

Keep your focus on God, not on what is or isn’t happening in your career. Remind yourself WHY you’re doing what you’re doing: obedience, to help others, to share your experience of God.

Acknowledgement

Acknowledge that God is God, that He is sovereign, that His wisdom is far beyond any wisdom you may have. That He will do what He will do. That we need to not just trust Him, but have a holy fear of Him, understanding that there are consequences when we allow ourselves to grumble against Him or rebel against His truths. Acknowledge with our mouth and with our behavior, that God has the right to do whatever He wants.

Surrender

Let go of your expectations. Lay them on His altar and leave them with Him. God will reward our obedience in His ways, in His timing, and because He loves us, not because we “deserve” anything.

Gratitude

Be grateful for what you have. Now. More than that, savor what God gives you, whatever it is. Keep your eyes and heart open every day to see the blessings He has for you. Know that everything that comes to you is by His hand, and thank Him for it. Be grateful that He’s asked you to write, whatever His purposes.

And, always, always, remember the unimaginable grace He’s given you. When we’re having trouble with feeling entitled, especially, it’s a sure sign we’ve forgotten the meaning of God’s grace to us.

Christ Gives us Strength to fight discontent

Remember, these five cures we’ve given you aren’t done in your own power. Go back to what Paul says in Philippians 4:13. Where does his strength come from? It’s Christ who gives us strength. Lean on Him to help you do these five things.

Bottom line, as you embrace these cures for discontent, understand one important truth: If you’re not content in your circumstances now, whatever they may be, you won’t be content in any circumstances. Thinking sales or success or accolades or money will give you a spirit of contentment just isn’t true. Because when you think these things, you are believing your source of contentment is in circumstance.

There’s only one source of true contentment—contentment that will withstand any of the trials and struggles and the enemy’s attempts to gain a foothold—and you know, in your heart of hearts, that that source is God.

So today, let’s embrace the wondrous truth of Proverbs 19:23:

“The fear of the LORD leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”

We want to hear from you

Have you struggled with discontent? What helped you?

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Are you giving the enemy a foothold in your heart or spirit?

THANK YOU!

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

Special thank you to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Deanna Storfie, who says she’s been acting up as long as she can remember. In 2006 she started a ministry that dramatizes the stories of Christian heroes of our past to a whole new generation. Learn more at her website actingupdrama.ca.

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

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

093 – Going Wherever God Leads with Guest Kay Marshall Strom

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Kay Marshall Strom on Write from the Deep Podcast Going Wherever God LeadsGuest Kay Marshall Strom is well acquainted with the Deep. The author of over 40 books, she’s also travelled the world—but where she goes is where God leads. And where God has led her is to the poorest and most oppressed places. Places where she’s had to face her own weakness, where she’s been held at gunpoint, and where she learned, without a doubt, that God is sufficient.

About Kay Marshall Strom

Kay Marshall Strom is an author, speaker, and 21st century abolitionist whose book topics provide a wide variety of speaking possibilities, including the global family of God and a Christian perspective on justice and mercy. She also speaks at writers’ conferences and workshops. Learn more about her speaking, teaching, books, and travels at her website kaystrom.com.

Thanks to our patrons on Patreon, we can provide an edited transcript of the show!

Erin: Hello listeners and welcome to the deep. We are so glad you’re joining us. We’re glad because we have another interview today! We have Kay Marshall Strom with us today, and I’m going to let Karen introduce her.

Karen: Of course you are! Kay, you and I met, I don’t know how many years ago at writers conferences, and the thing that I noticed first about Kay was that she had such a peaceful spirit about her. Just a sense of real contentment, and that struck me because I’ve never been a peaceful person. I’ve been a little bit of a stormy person, so to meet someone like Kay impressed me. She was a speaker at one of the conferences I was speaking at as well. She was one of the keynoters, and she talked about something she’s going to share with us in a little bit, about memorizing scripture. How important that is. I was so impacted by that. It just changed everything for me.

I’m delighted Kay is here. In addition to being a terrific person, she is a traveler. She rails against social injustice wherever she encounters it, and she calls herself a passionate citizen of the world. She’s got 39 published books, seven of which have been book club selections, 12 have been translated into foreign languages, and one has been optioned for a movie. So she’s out there shaking the world with the stuff she’s doing for God. We’re so excited to have her here. Her writing has appeared in a number of volumes including the NIV Devotional Bible and the devotional book My Heart, Christ’s Home, Through the Year. Kay, welcome to the deep.

Kay: Thank you. What a privilege and a joy it is to be here with you.

Erin: We are delighted to have you here. I actually had the privilege of hearing you speak at Mount Hermon as well just recently. We’ll talk more about that. But first, Kay, we want to ask you what we ask everybody. What does the deep mean to you?

Kay: The deep to me means the hard places. That’s when faith is a little more difficult to come by. God seems farther away. We seem like we’re on our own. That’s what it means to me. I have been through some hard places.

But when I’ve been in great places I feel the deep in a different way—to be deeply into the lap of God.

Erin: Talk about some of those hard places. Pick one, I know you have a lot!

Kay: Well, our house burned, and that’s when I had three books in process.

Karen: Oh my gosh!

Kay: One of them was actually completed and was already being advertised and sold in Zondervan’s catalog. And Zondervan had lost the copy because they had a virus in their computer. So they said to me—we were on vacation—they said, “When you get home send us a copy of the book as soon as you can.”

Well, there was no book to send.

Karen: Okay, writers. Everybody, let’s just have a moment of silence and grieving!

Kay: That’s deep.

Karen: That is deep!

Erin: What was your first thought? What did you do when you discovered that there was no book?

Kay: I didn’t know what to do. I thought, “I’ve gotta rewrite it.” And that’s actually what I did. But of course all my research and everything was gone too. But I rewrote it, and did one page at a time, and zipped it off to Zondervan. And did the next page and zipped it off, and the book came out.

Erin: Okay, wait a minute. Let’s review. Your house is burned down, and you’re still writing a book? How, logistically, did that work out?

Kay: Actually, when the house burned, we were in England. My husband was dying of a terrible condition, and we were on vacation. I’d decided we needed to take one last vacation together. My children were ready to start college. So, we were actually in England. We had a little bit of—I started to say a break, but I guess it wasn’t really a break—before we came home to the burned-down house. Other than that, everything was great.

Karen: How long had your husband been sick?

Kay: He died. This was a genetic condition that we didn’t know he had, and it showed itself probably 15 years before he died.

Erin: Oh, my word.

Karen: Were you being his caregiver for that long?

Kay: Yeah, I really was. In fact I did a book on that because I couldn’t find any books for caregivers to help us know how to steer through this kind of a thing. It was really difficult. And then of course all our insurance was immediately canceled because they said it was a pre-existing condition. So, I was supporting everybody on my writing too. Other than that…

Karen: No deep places in your life at all!

Kay: No, no. But that’s what I think of when I think of deep, because some great things came out of even those awful situations.

Karen: Okay, such as?

Kay: Learning to trust God. Learning what I should have known. The writing wasn’t my writing, it came from God because my brain stopped. Learning what I was able to do when I had to. And turning not only my husband over to God, but also my children who were away from home because of college. So, we made it.

Erin: What did you feel were the biggest struggles as you were trying to be a caregiver and as you’re trying to support your family with your writing? What did you feel was the biggest struggle and what did you learn the most through that?

Kay: Two things. One thing was, we were very active in our large church but everybody just sealed up tight. Nobody came to visit. Nobody. Even the pastors didn’t come to pray with my husband, even though I requested it repeatedly. I think the thing was, it was just hard to see what was happening to him. They couldn’t see that. So I learned that I cannot depend on people. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I mean, people are not the place we should put our trust and our dependence.

Erin: Right.

Kay: It has to be in God.

Erin: Right.

Karen: How did you do that? Because I know that for me, I’m such a social person, I’m such an extrovert, that my first thing to do is to reach out to people and to find support to be able to talk to people. So when you felt like you were in the place of isolation, when they weren’t reaching out to you, what did you do?

Kay: I went to a Christmas party. I didn’t really want to go, because I thought I shouldn’t, but I got a babysitter and went. All I could think of was what was going on, what I still had to do, my books that were getting behind. I was standing by the fireplace, and a woman I had never seen before came up and stood on the other side. And I had to talk. I had to.

I started pouring my heart out to her. She’d said, “How are you?” That was the mistake. And so I just started pouring my heart out. I purposely took a breath in the middle of a sentence so I wouldn’t come to an end of a sentence and breathe and she would leave. I could not let her go.

And I talked and talked. Afterwords, I was just humiliated, and I went home. But when I saw that woman later, she said, “I understood. I knew you were in pain, and I have been praying for you nonstop since that.” And I thought, even in that, God was taking care of me. At that point.

So things like that happened. I could not really take a shower or take a bath or anything because I had to be with my husband all the time. He would, you know, throw things out of the freezer. Or go peek in the neighbor’s windows and stuff. I had to be with him all the time.

One day the postman came to the door and said, “I have a package for you.”

I said, “Oh, would you please come in and stay with my husband? Just read him a story while I go take a bath? I’ll take it really fast.”

And he looked at me, and he said, “Okaaay…” And he did.

Erin: Wow.

Kay: So you never know where the help is going to come from.

Karen: I think one of the most valuable things is that you asked him for help. I mean, I realize it came out of a place of desperation—

Kay: It came out of a deep place.

Karen: We’re often so reticent to ask people for help, and I think there’s a lesson in that. We need to be open and vulnerable enough to do so.

Kay: Yes.

Erin: How did you get words written during that time, practically speaking, what would you do?

Kay: I wrote at night. I stayed up most all night and wrote. I tried to just sit in a chair and get little cat naps during the day. But when I stay up too late and I’m too sleepy, I start hallucinating. And I would see my grandma outside the window and I would say, “Okay, Grandma, I know what you’re saying—get to bed—but just hold on, I’ve got to do this.”

And so I really had a nice time with my grandmother during those days, who died many, many years before.

Karen: Good heavens!

Kay: That’s what I had to do. I had to write at night.

Erin: Wow. And she’s got 39 books people. I’m just sayin’. And articles.

Kay: Actually, 44 now.

Karen: Oh, my!

Erin: And counting! One of the things I loved that you wrote on your website was that you talked about being a passionate citizen of the world. I’m guessing you’ve done some world travel?

Kay: Oh my! You should see my passport. I have. The thing is, people say, “Oh, did you have a nice time?” I’d say, “No. I was in a refugee camp in Sudan. It wasn’t lots of fun.”

Mostly what my traveling is—I write about social justice issues—and most of my traveling is among the poorest and the most destitute and the most neglected people the world. I especially look for the people who know Christ, and I ask them, “What can we do for you? How can we work alongside of you? How can we help you? And how can we learn from you as well?” So that’s generally what I do. And the stories that I hear are heartbreaking in many cases.

Erin: What’s an example of one that touched you the most?

Kay: This was one that I told recently, but it was when I was in north Africa, in a country there. It’s hard to tell the names of the countries because they’re all, you know, very hidden, the Christians are. But the Christian women met me in the middle of the night. They had sheets over them so that I couldn’t see them, so that if I was stopped, I wouldn’t be able to identify anybody.

Erin: Wow.

Kay: Yeah, it was for their protection. One of the women said to me, “The only reason the few Christians that are here are allowed to exist is because of the pressure your country puts on our country. And the only reason there’s any pressure put on our country, is because the Christians in your country put pressure on your government. The day that pressure stops is the day we will be wiped from the face of the earth. Our total existence depends on you. And you don’t even know we exist. You in America don’t even know we’re here.”

And I just cried. It’s true.

Erin: So everybody who’s listening to this podcast can now pray for these women.

Kay: That’s right. That’s exactly right. And north Africa. The struggle is so great in so many of those countries.

Erin: Kay, what got you involved in this to begin with? Where did this passion come from? How did God birth this passion for social justice in you? And to go? Not many people say, “Yay I’m going to go traveling to the poorest hardest places in the world! Pick me! Pick Me!” How did that happen?

Kay: That’s right. Well, it was interesting. It was after my husband had died, and I was doing a lot of reading. I like to read biographies of people. I was reading about Marie Antoinette. I read in there about how at that time there was great famine in the area and the poor people were starving in Paris. She decided to have all the royals over for a big dinner, so she had them over, and there was so much food that the tables were literally sagging with the food. After three days the royals went home and there was still leftover food. And Marie Antoinette said to her husband, “You know, we shouldn’t throw all this food away. Let’s put it on the streets so that the poor people can eat it.”

He said okay, so they had the servants do that. And King Louis and Marie Antoinette watched from the windows of the tower as the people of Paris were crawling on their hands and knees to lick the food off the streets. They were so starving. And Marie Antoinette said to her husband, “How kind we are to our peasants here. They must love us!”

Down in the streets they were saying, “We’re going to have your head.” Which they did.

The thing was, Marie Antoinette was not cruel. She was just totally clueless.

After I read that book, we experienced 9/11 and the destruction of the twin towers. And I went to church that Sunday and one of the elders stood up and said, “We need to pray for the people affected by this awful situation. We are so good to the world. You’d think they would love us.”

And I just gasped. We are Marie Antoinette. We have no idea what the world needs, what the world wants, what we can do for them, and where we need to back off. We don’t know.

So I approached all the editors I’d been working with and suggested a book of going around to the hardest places of the world and talking to the Christians and saying, “What do you need? What can we do? And where can we step back and learn from you?”

Every one of the editors said, “We can’t do it. It’s a good idea, but nobody cares. Nobody cares in this country about anybody outside our borders, and the book won’t sell.”

Finally a group that I worked with, Partners International, helped me decide where to go and how to do it. But the book was published by InterVarsity Press. They said, “It probably won’t sell, but we want to do it, because it should be written whether it sells or not.”

And it was one of their top sellers that year! People do care. We just don’t know. People don’t know, and when they know, they don’t know what they can do. That’s how I got into it.

Erin: What’s the name of that book? I can put a link in for our listeners.

Kay: That book is Daughters of Hope. And after that is Forgotten Girls, in that same series. The one that I did on the organization that helped to sponsor me to go the first time is Harvest of Hope. Those are the three major books that are written along that line, and tell stories of the women I met and the people.

Erin: I love it. For all you listeners, we’ll have links in the show notes so you can check those out. Kay, I’ve heard you talk about a story before about what encouraged you to start memorizing scripture. Tell our listeners that because I think it’s just amazing.

Kay: It was when I was in China doing some of the same work that I’ve been telling you about. I was invited to go to a house church. It was not on a Sunday, and there was nobody there, and they said, “Be ready to run if we tell you to because it’s illegal for people who are not Chinese to be in Chinese homes. And there I was.”

Erin: Were you scared?

Kay: I have gotten over being scared.

Erin: I love it!

Kay: I have been imprisoned, and I have been held at gunpoint, and all these things. And I’ve just gotten over being scared.

Karen: Oh, my word!

Erin: Okay, everyone, will cover those stories next!

Kay: As I was in that house, they were showing me around, just a little house. The living room had two pieces of furniture. A big table and one little chair. The men took the wood top off the table and it was actually a hidden baptismal. So I thought that was kind of neat.

But I was looking at that, and a little old woman came in and sat down in a chair. She took out piece of paper from her pocket and a pencil, and just kind of sat there holding the pencil. I said to the translator, “What does she want?”

“Well,” she said, “We don’t have much of the Bible, and she wants you to start reciting some of it so that we can write it down, and we can put it in our collection, and we can share it with other churches.”

And I said, “Uh…recite some of it?” And I thought, well I know verses…

She said, “No, we want you to recite chapters.”

And I said, “Chapters?”

Erin: Oh dear.

Kay: I thought, “Well, I’ll start with the 23rd Psalm. I can do that one right off my head.”

She said, “Start with Romans. We don’t have any Romans. It’s illegal in this country. If you could just do a couple of chapters of Romans it would mean everything to us.”

I said, “Chapters of Romans? Oh dear. I—I don’t know any.”

She said, “Oh, you don’t have Romans either?”

I said, “No, no we have it. I have it on my shelf in my office. And I have it in different rooms. I have it on my computer, on my phone. But I don’t know it.”

And that woman gave me such a look of disdain when the translator told her what I said. She picked up her paper, picked up her pencil, turned her back on me, and stalked out of the room.

The thing is, my favorite chapter of the Bible is Romans eight. Think of what I could have told them if I had known that chapter. I could have said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

And I could’ve said, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” And then I could’ve said, “What then shall we say in response to all of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who didn’t spare even His own son but lifted Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, gloriously, graciously give us all things?”

And then all the way down to, “What can separate us from the love of Christ? Trouble or hardship, persecution or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No. In all of these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. And I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present, nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

But I couldn’t say that because I didn’t learn, I didn’t memorize, Romans eight until I got home. I never, ever want to be in that situation again. So I’ve been learning major passages that I think are especially appropriate for the Holy Spirit to bring to mind when I’m in a situation where I need to do that.

Karen: I’ve got to tell you, I’ve heard this story before, but even sitting here listening as you were reciting the words from Scripture, I just got chills all over. The power of God’s Word, and the impact that it has on us, we take it so for granted without recognizing that these are the words of life. How can we not consign them to memory and to our hearts, that God can use them when the time is right?

Kay: Yes. That’s exactly right.

Karen: So just very quickly share with us when you were held at gunpoint.

Erin: We need to know that now!

Kay: I was in Nepal, and the Maoists were taking over. But we decided we were going to go ahead and go where we were going to go anyway, and if they asked us where we were from, we’d say Canada like we always do because it’s safer. And they can’t read what’s on our passport anyway. So we thought we were safe. But we were stopped by the Maoists. They held us for about a day and a half. Then they said they were going to let us go since we weren’t from the US, we were from Canada. They got in the car with us, but put the gun to my head as we drove down.

I thought, “Boy, I hope we don’t hit a bump.” But it turned out all right. They let us go, and all as well.

Erin: You’ve been everywhere. Out of all of your travels, out of all of the things that you’ve experienced, what would you say is one thing our listeners could take away, or could do, or could be encouraged by?

Kay: One of the most impacting things that has happened is my time in the Sudanese refugee camp. They were holding—out of Khartoum—they were holding the south Sudanese there. It was mostly women, because the men had been killed. Women and children. They told me, “We hate it here. We just hate it here, and we want badly to go home. But as long as we’re here, we will be missionaries for Christ.”

The guards would come by and say, “What are you doing?” They’d be singing and clapping and dancing. “Why are you happy? Do you not see where you are?”

And they said, “Oh, yeah. Come and listen.”

By the time South Sudan became a country of its own, and they sent all those people back, by that time they’d closed down the refugee camp. But, no surprise, Sudan—which is Muslim, and South Sudan is Christian—the Muslim Sudan, they said, “Our capital city of Khartoum will never, ever have a Christian church. Never.”

Well today, there are 14 known Christian churches, and every one of them has been started by one of those guards, who came to Christ because those women determined they were going to be missionaries wherever they were.

Karen: There’s the word for each one of us today as we’re listening to you and being amazed by what God has done through you, that He will do the same thing if we just present ourselves to Him. If we’re willing, then, to do what it takes to be a missionary for God wherever we are. In our writing, in our families, in everything.

Kay: That’s exactly right.

Karen: Kay, thank you so much for spending this time with us. You have so many stories, we’re going to have to have you come back again and share lots more. But we appreciate your time with us and your reminder of the importance of knowing the Word deep in our hearts and in our memories, and of being willing to be a missionary wherever God has us. May He continue to bless you and what you do for Him.

Kay: Well, thank you, and thank you so much for allowing me to be in this place that is in the deep in a positive way. Thank you.

Karen: You bet.

Erin: Thank you.

We want to hear from you!

Has God asked you to go somewhere that made you uncomfortable? What happened?

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Ever been held at gunpoint because of your faith? Kay Marshall Strom has. Come hear what God taught her!

Links to books by Kay Marshall Strom

Daughters of Hope: Stories of Witness and Courage in the Face of Persecution by Kay Marshall Strom and Mishele Rickett

Daughters of Hope by Kay Marshall Strom

Forgotten Girls: Stories of Hope and Courage by Kay Marshall Strom and Michele Rickett

Forgotten Girls by Kay Marshall Strom

Harvest of Hope: Stories of Life-Changing Gifts by Kay Marshall Strom

THANK YOU!

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

Special thanks to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Deanna Storfie, who says she’s been acting up as long as she can remember. In 2006 she started a ministry that dramatizes the stories of Christian heroes of our past to a whole new generation. Learn more at her website actingupdrama.ca.

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

STAY CONNECTED

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

092 – What to Do After a Writers’ Conference

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Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young What to Do After a Writers ConferenceWriters’ conferences are a wonder! You meet so many people, from fellow writers to editors to agents, and they all have great tips and guidance to share with you. But how can you sort through everything after you get home?

Come learn practical steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed, to battle discouragement, and to put what you’ve learned into practice!

We’ve talked about writers’ conferences when we interviewed Kathy Ide and DiAnn Mills. We also talked about how to prepare for a writing conference in The Unexpected Deep of a Writing Conference.

But this time we want to focus on what to do after the conference, once you get home. Why talk about that?

You may be dealing with a spiritual high, or a huge boost of excitement if people loved your work, or a profound sense of discouragement or fatigue. Writing conferences can have a big impact on you and your career, and we want you to handle them wisely, which includes not just preparing well, but following up well. What you do with what you learn at that conference matters.

Key Practices After a writers’ conference

1. Stay connected to God.

Especially at a place like Mount Hermon, which feels so close to God in the redwoods, it’s easy to come home and feel like you’ve lost that connection. But God isn’t only in the redwoods. He’s at your messy house too. He’s in the midst of your family who’ve been waiting for you, and at your workplace.

Being away can give us an opportunity to stop and listen in a way we don’t have at home or elsewhere. But now the challenge is to keep that yearning, that connection with God in the midst of your tiredness from travel and in the midst of daily demands.

  • Set aside time for God, to be thankful, to reflect on what He told you about Himself. We don’t stop and do that nearly enough!
  • Ask God to bring to mind what He wants you to remember most about Himself.
  • Tell your family, your friends, etc., the specific ways God worked at the conference—the divine appointments, the words of encouragement, the big and small ways God showed you His love.
  • Journal about what God showed you, how He spoke to you, the people He spoke through.

The point is to continually keep your focus on God, the One who gave you this task.

2. Take time to decompress and recover from social interaction.

Whether you’re an introvert or not, you need time to recharge from interaction. You’ve expended more energy than you realize.

Chances are you’ve been talking to strangers, making new friends, and putting yourself out there in ways that have pushed you to the limit. Kudos to you for doing that! Now go into your cave for a while. Knowing what you need to do to recover is healthy and good.

  • Plan for recovery time after the conference instead of diving into life as you know it.
  • Consider taking an extra day off work, or plan a later departure from the conference center so you have some time to yourself.
  • Consider a few extra hours of childcare before you come home. You’ll be a better parent if you give yourself a little extra time for solitude.

3. Take time to recover physically.

There’s excitement, energy, and late night sessions followed by early breakfasts at writers’ conferences. You’ll likely feel as if you’re running on pure adrenaline by conference end. Your body needs a chance to recover.

  • Consider the benefits of a recovery day before you get back to daily exercise. Your workout will be more productive if you’re operating from a place of rest rather than a place of stress.
  • Consider hiring someone to clean your house while you’re gone.
  • Consider setting up a grocery order pickup so you don’t have to make a plan and walk through the grocery store when you’re weary.
  • If you pre-make meals for when you’re gone, make one or two extra so you can pull them out the day you get home.

4. Take time to refill your well of creativity.

We have this idea that because it’s a mind thing, creativity must be limitless. It’s not. Creativity requires energy. When you’re socially tired, physically exhausted, and mentally drained, it’s difficult to produce new work. Know the things that nurture your creativity and plan to do them before you try to get back into your writing routine.

5. Take time to NOT reflect on anything you learned at the conference.

Chances are you’ve gotten an overload of information—picture trying to drink from a full-blast fire hose. You may be overwhelmed—that’s normal. It’s okay to go home and keep all your handouts, critiques, notes, whatever, in your bag a few days, or even a couple weeks. You’ll process everything in due time.

Of course, if you’re afraid you’re going to forget something, make a note about it before you leave the writers’ conference, or even on the airplane. But otherwise plan to step back from the overload.

6. After you’ve relaxed and regrouped, then take time to reflect on everything you learned at the conference.

Reprocess your conversations, your evaluations, your critiques in bite-sized pieces at your own pace. There’s no rush. You don’t have to have it all figured out on anyone else’s timeline but yours and God’s.

Realize that editors and agents who may have asked you to submit something to them don’t expect that to come two hours after you get home from the conference. Guess what? They’re decompressing too. They expect you to take the time to incorporate what you’ve learned from the conference into your manuscript. They’re not looking for a hastily created proposal, they’re looking for a thoughtfully created proposal that reflects outstanding craft.

But friends, if someone asked to see your proposal and/or manuscript, please do send it. Don’t waste an opportunity God has given you.

You may have had appointments or critiques with editors and agents who didn’t feel your work was ready, or felt your topic wasn’t for them, and now you’re wondering what to do. This is a time for prayer and reflection.

  • Maybe rejection is much needed redirection. You need to take your work in a different way, or seek a different publisher or agent.
  • Maybe it’s encouragement to work harder on your craft even though you thought it was ready, now you have to take more steps—discouraging but yet encouraging because you can see where to grow.
  • Maybe you need to consider indie publishing because you’ve learned your topic is too niche for a traditional publisher.

This all may feel overwhelming, but if you take time to process it, you can seek God’s guidance and move forward with a plan rather than simply reacting with emotion.

  • Realize that you’ve been exposed to new ideas and new techniques, some of which will work for you and some won’t. They won’t resonate with who you are as a writer or a person. That’s all fine. Your job is to sift through ideas and techniques and discern what works best for you. And ditch the rest—guilt free.

There is no one right way to write, or edit, or begin a career, or publish a book, or build an audience, or market a book. There are many ways. What you need to do is lay what you’ve learned on the altar before God, and ask Him what HIS way is for you.

You’ve also likely been exposed to several varying opinions of your work. One person says you need more anecdotes in your nonfiction work, but the other critiquer didn’t even mention that, but instead encouraged you to consider making the manuscript fiction. Those are possibilities, not directives. It’s up to you to prayerfully reflect on the counsel and opinions you’ve received.

What if someone else thinks your devotionals show wonderful promise? Does that mean you should switch to writing those? Not necessarily. Faculty members are pointing out areas of strengths and areas to improve. They notice different things in manuscripts because they’re different people. It all becomes information to help you find your way. To open your eyes to some of the possible paths before you. Prayerfully consider where God is leading you. Ask yourself: What does my heart resonate with? And go that way.

The bottom line:

Every editor, agent, and faculty member at that conference who gave you guidance and instruction wants the same thing as you—that you walk in submission to God, glorifying and serving Him in everything you do.

We want to hear from you!

What’s your best tip for thriving after a writers’ conference?

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What will help you most after you get home from a writers’ conference?

Thank you!

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

Special thanks to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Priscilla L. Sharrow! She’s writing a book about her experience with traumatic brain injury, so watch for that! Learn more about Priscilla at her website priscillasharrow.com.

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

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091 – Liz Curtis Higgs Shares How God’s Hard Answers Bless Us

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Liz Curtis Higgs Shares How God's Hard Answers Bless Us Write from the Deep Podcast Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungGuest Liz Curtis Higgs has received some tough answers from God—but she says those answers are the best thing to ever happen to her! Come listen as she shares the amazing ways God blesses us in the midst of hard answers we never wanted.

About Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs is an award-winning speaker and best-selling author of 37 books, with 4.6 million copies in print. She’s spoken at conferences across the United States and in 15 foreign countries. Her messages are biblical, encouraging, down-to-earth, and profoundly funny, helping both sisters and seekers embrace the truth of God’s amazing, unchanging grace. Liz has been interviewed on more than 600 radio and television stations, including guest appearances on PBS, A&E, NPR, and Focus on the Family. Learn more about Liz at lizcurtishiggs.com.

Thanks to our patrons on Patreon, we can provide an edited transcript of the show!

Erin: Welcome, listeners, welcome to the deep. You can hear I’m excited today because I’m always excited when we have and interview. I’m especially excited because we have none other than Liz Curtis Higgs here with us. Karen, give us an introduction.

Karen: One of the greatest delights of my career has been working with Liz. She is a sister of my soul, my heart, my spirit, and humor. We have so much fun whenever we’re together. We were just talking about it before we started the podcast—I think we have known each other now for twenty-three years. I met her when I was ten. We have had such a good time in all these years. Not just because of a shared, crazy, whacky sense of humor, but also because Liz is one of those rare people who knows how to laugh, but she also has such amazing spiritual depth to her. She’s so open to God.

I remember when I met her husband the first time at a Sandy Cove writers’ conference. Liz was there as a speaker, and Bill—wonderful guy—came and met with me, and he said that Lizzy was interested in writing fiction. I didn’t know who Liz was because she was nonfiction and I was fiction. But boy, once we met, it was just, “Let’s take off and let’s have fun with this.” In fact, I went in and I listened to her keynote, and I laughed so hard that it gave me an asthma attack. I had to run out of the room, coughing and choking. She told me she saw me run out and thought to herself, “Oh my gosh, I’ve killed her!”

I had the delight of acquiring her first fiction for the Christian market. It was for Multnomah, a book called Mixed Signals, published in—did we say 1998?

Liz: 1999.

Karen: Since then, the amazing Miss Liz is the author of 37 books with 4.6 million copies in print. Her latest release, 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path, shows how 31 nuggets of truth reveal God’s faithfulness. Liz, welcome!

Liz: It’s so good to be with both of you. I love the whole concept of your podcast: Deep. I hope deep speaks to deep today.

Erin: Me too! That’s great. Thank you, Liz! So we always ask our guests first and foremost, what does the Deep mean to you?

Liz: Well, the simple answer is the not shallow. And I actually do mean that, because it’s so easy to skim across the surface of everything. Even our very lives can become a surface experience. Maybe in part because of social media. In the ways in we connect with each other. Short little text messages. Little tweets on Twitter and so forth. Your life is reduced to a handful of words and photos that you’ve carefully curated.

Deep is the opposite of that. Deep goes all the way to the soul. Deep goes where you’re not always really excited about taking people. The real you with all the ugly and all the pain and all the disappointments. The fears. The doubts. And yet, it’s the richest place of all. I think when someone allows you into their deep places, it’s a huge compliment. It’s a huge leap of faith and of trust. And actually, I think it’s where God asks us to live.

Karen: I agree.

Liz: It’s in the Deep with Him. And then with anyone that we trust to be with us there. Oddly, even though we know more people, I think, than we’ve ever known—and that’s know with a small k-know, it’s not the biblical know, as in he knew her in the biblical sense—that intimate knowing that’s just reserved for people that we trust. And that number for me is shrinking. Even as the number of people you know at the surface level expands exponentially, I think those we go deep with, we choose with care. Because we don’t want someone to take what we reveal in the Deep and scatter it in the shallow.

Karen: It’s tough, and you’re exactly right because we live in a world that is so keyed in—at least in America—to social media. We’ve lost that art of spending time together. Of savoring and having fellowship together. I think that’s one of the reasons I like doing video calls more than phone calls, because phone calls are fine, but I want to see the faces. I want to feel as though I’m right there with people and able to savor that time together. And yet even though we have that capacity, we don’t take advantage of it very often.

We’ve talked on this podcast about the importance of having support people around you when you’re working to fulfill a task God has given you as a writer. I think it takes great wisdom to choose the right people to invite into the Deep with you. They have to be people—like you said—who won’t be careless with what’s happening with you. But at the same time, they need to be truth-speakers. That’s what I love about you and about Erin. You guys speak truth into my life, and when I need the hard lessons, you’re there to say it. And I can receive it from you because I trust you so deeply.

Liz: It’s a real gift—that friendship gift. It’s a whole special level. I think one of the real keys, Karen, is that we have known each other for such a long time.

Karen: Right.

Liz: A new friend, you’re still kind of testing each other and seeing how deep they really want to go. But when you’ve known someone for years and have seen them at their best and at their worst, and you’ve seen that they’re not here, there, and everywhere, but that they’re solid, you just trust them a whole lot more. Maybe that’s an obvious statement, but old friends are rare. In some ways becoming more rare because of how we live and how we do life.

Erin: What do you think that can mean for writers today? We’ve been talking in the past about how writers are being called to do more and more of the marketing, and they’re called to be on social media, and they’re called to get known—with a little k—to be known by so many people and to have all these superficial relationships because that’s all they have time for. What advice or words of wisdom would you have for somebody trying to deal with the balance there? How do they find deep friendships when so much time is spent on the little-k known?

Liz: I guess I can only speak from how I’ve done things, and I’ve been doing this a long time, so that makes a difference. For me, I have tried to minister to people. I never think about building a platform or developing a following. Those kind of phrases, which, frankly, publishers love to use, are dangerous because they encourage the shallow. For me, it’s about ministry. Ministry might be a very simple, quick email to someone who’s reached out to me, to say, hey babe, I hear you. I’ve read what you’ve shared. I get it. I hear you and I’m going to pray right now as I hit send. And I do.

I never promise people, oh I’ll pray about that for you, suggesting that they’re going on some permanent list. There is no permanent list. I don’t want to suggest that there is. Maybe there should be. But I promise what I can do, and what I can always do is stop at that moment, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, a tweet, email, whatever, I can certainly stop right then and say, “Lord, can we talk about Karen and her needs, or Beth and her needs, or Sue and her needs.” It’s a joy and a privilege to do that.

It doesn’t mean okay, good, check that off the list. It’s not that. It’s just keeping a promise that I’ve made. I’ve now been at this so long. I’ve been a believer for 37 years.

Karen: Wow.

Liz: Isn’t that wild? It does seem like yesterday in many ways. So really from the day you meet Jesus, you’re ministering to people whether you know it or not. At some point you may raise your hand and actually say, “This is what I do all the time.” But the truth is even if you work at something that has nothing to do with “ministry,” you’re ministering all the time. It’s who we are. We’re built for that. So those of us who’ve been given a particular ministry of words, whether spoken or written, that again is something we’re doing all the time.

So, when I have a book coming out, all I think about is, “How can I minister to those dear people who’ve crossed my path over all those years? How can I minister to them as I tell them about this book. It’s not just the book that I hope will minister, I want even the promotional piece that I create, or the time we spend in an interview, I want it to minister, if they never buy the book. Is that making sense?

Karen: It is. It’s so much of the part of the fabric of who you are. That’s one of the first things that I recognized about you when I met you is that your heart is for people. It’s not your heart is for speaking, your heart is for writing. Your heart is for loving. God gave you so much, and so much grace, and you recognize that, and that flows through you to anybody who’s around you. There’s no sense of superficial about you. That’s a rarity, especially in today’s world. It was rare enough back when we first met, but in today’s world, that’s extremely rare. You look people in the eye, and you spend time with them, and you let them in in such a way that God can speak to them through you.

That’s who we’re supposed to be as believers. It’s not that we’re all perfect, and we’re all fixed and everything. It’s that in our brokenness, God can speak to other broken people.

We recently had a podcast that came out talking about when God’s answers aren’t exactly what you were hoping for. You’ve been through a pretty tough situation with the cancer that you’ve been facing. I’d like for you to share with our listeners, as a followup to that, you may not like God’s answers to your prayers, but you have said something that to me is astounding. But it’s not surprising because God does the astounding. You said, as we were getting ready for this podcast, cancer is one of the best things that ever happened to you.

Liz: I know. It sounds really crazy. I suppose I could blame chemo brain. Except at this point I’m fourteen months past my last chemo, so I can’t use that excuse anymore. I’m now back to my own gray matter for what it’s worth.

Here’s the thing: nobody signs up for cancer, and to say I was excited when I was first diagnosed would be crazy. In fact, what I said to my oncologist—this is so me—I waved my calendar, my printed-off calendar, and I said, “I have no time for this.”

She said, “Lizzy, you’re just going to have to make time because we have to address this cancer. It’s real. It’s there. And there are a number of ways we can deal with it, but all of them are going to require time.”

So I went to the Lord and I said, “Okay, Father, my calendar is actually yours. My time is yours. My life is yours. Lord, you knew what all these commitments were. You knew what was coming, and still you brought these commitments my way, so I believe, Father, that you want me to actually keep going and squeeze in some cancer stuff while I do that.

Last year, 2018, I ended up doing 52 events. That is twice what I normally do in any given year. 52 speaking events.

Erin: Wow.

Liz: I know. And I had 20 cancer treatments. That is just crazy. And it’s not, “Oh, isn’t Liz amazing.” Are you kidding? This comes under the category of, “Oh, wow! Isn’t God amazing!” Because He made it clear I was to keep the commitments. I only missed two events in 2018, and both of them broke my heart because I didn’t want to miss anything. Actually it was in 2017, the start of the cancer journey. I was in the hospital—it was such a nuisance. But I just couldn’t go. They would not let me out.

Karen: They should’ve brought them all to your room.

Liz: I had this vision, you know—in the movies, when they leap out of bed and yank all the IVs out and they run down the hall with their hospital gown flapping. I thought about what that might look like and it was so ugly I’d better just stay in bed. So I did miss 2 events through the whole cancer—and I don’t call it my cancer journey, by the way, I call it my cancer adventure. Because it has been adventurous. God has taken me places I not only have never been, He’s taken me places I didn’t even know I wanted to go.

The most life-changing place was to stand on the tiptoe of eternity. Because I went through all the chemo and all the radiation and all the stuff. They said, “Oh Liz we’re certain we have all this, but we’re going to go ahead and do some scans just to be sure. Wouldn’t you know, they found another tumor the size of a golf ball. Which really ticked me off because I don’t even play golf.

I said, “I thought this wasn’t going to happen?”

The color drained out of their skin and they said, “We didn’t expect to find this, Liz.”

And I said, “Well you know what? God did. This is no surprise to Him. So let’s carry on, friends. What do we do next?”

It was such an opportunity. Not to test God. My cancer was not about testing God, or Him testing me. It was about this adventure of grabbing His hand and saying, “Lord, I’m just going to leap into all this with you. I trust You completely.”

When it came time for the next set of scans, they were not saying, “No worries.” We all kind of stood on tiptoe to see what would happen.

When it came back: no evidence of disease, I’m going to tell you the truth. First thought that came to my mind was, “Well, shucks.” Because I had had in those three months—four months—I had time to prepare my heart for stepping into eternity. And I was pretty excited about it.

Karen: I know!

Liz: It’s like, “Lord, where else would I want to be?” There’s nowhere else. It’s what all of us are waiting for, whether we know it or not. Everyday you wake up, “This could be the day!” And when you have cancer, you’re even more aware of that, and sort of tuned up to the idea. I was, like, ready! So when he said, “Nope, you’re good.” The first thought was “Oh, shucks,” and the second was, “Shoot, I’m going to have to write that book after all.”

I was on, as I always am, on a book deadline. Seriously it’s like, well, okay, more books to write. Which I know sounds crazy, but those were the two things that came to mind. “Okay, I’m not done. God still has work for me here.” Then of course I embraced that. If that’s were God wants me, then here’s where I want to be.

But once you have stood on tiptoe and looked at eternity, what it does for your fears, is kind of amazing. Because it blows them all out of the water. What are you afraid of? If you’re not afraid of death…I’m not even afraid of the lead up to death, which used to be what really scared me. Woody Allen said, “I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

I get that, except for the believer, even that part won’t be scary. That’s what I know now. I know that however bad it gets, God will be with me. The big ah ha of the cancer adventure is the faithfulness of God. He is so faithful. Everything His word says about Him is true. I’ve been teaching that for 37 years. Now I know that I know. He is exactly who He says He is. I would trade nothing for that discovery. It was amazing. So, there you go.

Erin: Isn’t it astounding that when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want, our first reaction is that He isn’t faithful? And really the exact opposite is true. It’s to show us that He is faithful.

Liz: Yes. I believe that with all my heart.

Karen: It’s so hard for us to embrace that and to rest in it because we feel that so much of this is on us.

You guys know, and some of you listeners know, I was recently hospitalized for nine days. I’ve developed some kind of lung disease, and there were two procedures, both of which they said my oxygen levels were so low I could stop breathing during them.

So I did that standing on tiptoe, and I’ve gotta say that if it hadn’t been for the foundation that my parents gave me in their example of living out faith everyday, if it hadn’t been for the foundation of spending time in the Word and getting close to God, if it hadn’t been for the foundation of everything I learned about God when my husband and I were separated and twenty years of counseling, it’s like everything had been in preparation for this moment. And I was never afraid. I can resonate to what you’re saying, Liz. I was like, “Well, okay, if You still want me here, I’ll be here. But if it’s time to go, bring on the transport, I’m ready.”

Liz: Beam me up, baby, I’m ready! Let’s do it!

Karen: That’s exactly right. It does change everything. When I came home from the hospital and I could play with my dogs, when I stepped outside this morning and the rain had made all the fragrances in the valley so rich and resonant, all I could think of was, “The earth is declaring Your glory.” I’m so glad to be here to see it, but I can’t wait to see it in person. There’s a sense of anticipation mixed in with, you know, “God, I know You’ll take care of those I leave behind.” But that sense of anticipation is so profound.

Liz: It does make those who love us nervous though. At least it did my kids. They’re like, “Can you stop talking about heaven?”

Karen: Yeah, it did my husband.

Liz: But it’s such an exciting thing to look forward to.

Erin: Through the midst of all of that, and for all the good that it was, there probably were a few points here and there where you felt discouraged or down or frustrated, or anytime during your career. What do you do? What helps you when you’re feeling discouraged?

Liz: I’m called an encourager, so theoretically I’m never supposed to get discouraged.

Karen: Oh, yes you are.

Liz: But of course I do. I love prayer. For me, prayer is an ongoing conversation. I have never done the thing where you sit down and you pray for ten minutes. That’s great if that works for you. I have an ongoing conversation. I don’t know if your cell phone does this—I’m not happy about this particular quality—but it tells me how many hours I spend on my iphone. I just hate that.

Karen: Yes, screen time. Why do they do that?

Liz: I don’t know. It is nothing but convicting. There’s nothing about that number that feels good. However, what would be kind of fun to know is my God time.

Karen: Yes!

Liz: I don’t know who would ever keep track of such a thing, but my heart’s desire would be for it to be twenty-four hours a day. At least the waking ones. Although, you know, we know He speaks to us in our dreams, so God is ever speaking. The question is: is Lizzy listening? And then responding.

For me, prayer is just ongoing. I pick it up just like, “Oh, and another thing…”

Karen: “By the way, did I mention…”

Liz: “Oh, yes, Lord, that other thing too…” Not to be flippant. I never want to not be reverent toward the Lord. But He is so close to us. We don’t have to go to a particular place and do a set of things. That intimacy with Him is real, and it’s all the time. It’s one of my favorite things to talk to an audience about because we often think we have to usher Him into our presence.

He’s God. He’s everywhere. He’s in your writing study whether you invite Him in or not. I remind myself of that all day long. It also really—can I just say this—helps my behavior. If I think in terms of: the Lord is going to see it all, even the things in my mind.

I just taught this past weekend on that scene with Sarah when God and two angels show up to tell Abraham, “Your wife Sarah will have a son.” And she’s in the tent listening. Such a visual there, peeping in the tent flaps. And she laughs to herself and thinks, not says, thinks, “At my age”—this is the LRV, the Lizzy revised version—“shall I now have this pleasure?”

The Bible has so much humor in it. Do not say that it’s a dull and boring book. It’s so not. But then of course God says, “Why did Sarah laugh and say…” What a freak out that must have been for her. She thought she didn’t laugh out loud. But God heard it. She thought she thought, but He hears our thoughts. The scary thing is He knows it all, and the delightful thing is He knows it all, and is with us even so. What a comfort. What an encouragement.

As a writer, as a woman, as a believer, I take so much comfort in knowing God is constantly present. I don’t have to reach out to Him. He is here. Guiding my thoughts, guiding my words, and as I said, if I’m aware of His presence, He’s even guiding my behavior. Heaven knows I need it. I’m grateful.

Karen: Don’t we all need it.

Liz: Doesn’t mean I don’t mess up, by the way. I still do. But at least a little more quickly my reaction is, “Sorry, Lord.” A little more quickly.

Karen: I’ve been aware, lately, in working with dogs—I’ve had dogs my whole life and training them—and I have one little guy who is just over two years old, a Boston terrier corgi mix named Radar, and he is just solid enthusiasm. In working with him, in training him, he’s just so full of energy that he’ll be sitting and he’ll be doing great and the next thing I know he jumps almost to the top of a cabinet. He’s just out of his freaking mind.

Most of the dogs that I’ve worked with, because I’m consistent with them, they train and they get it. But Radar, there’s just so much that he can’t contain about himself. And I think to myself, “This has got to be the way God has felt in working with me, because He’s so patient and He’s so consistent, and I’m just constantly going off the rails.

Yet there’s such delight in that enthusiasm and in that excitement. I think God delights in each one of us, in our personalities. Even in the struggles that we face, He delights to be there and to draw us out of them.

Can you share a final thought with our listeners? One final pearl of wisdom about something they can do even today to find a sense of encouragement in the face of discouragement? To get their focus where it needs to be?

Liz: Oh, the answer is so predictable. I mean, for me. And that’s to get your face in the Word. It’s all that works for this girl. I get that Bible open. It almost doesn’t matter where. Although, I have to confess, I’m usually going to turn to the Psalms. David’s writing is so powerful and so honest. He’s quick to tell you, “It’s terrible, Lord!”

Karen: I love David because he’s a whiner. I can relate to that.

Liz: And yet then a praiser. You know one psalm next to the other. He really needed a better editor. But anyway. It’s the fact that David is so yay…boo…that we can identify with him at many different places in our lives. For me, it’s just kept my face in the Word. And I don’t mean read for ten minutes. Again, I’m not that girl who has this organized, check-it-off plan. Never. But I know right where to turn, and I don’t dally abut it. I get my face in the Word. I make sure I have the Word everywhere available so that I can dive in, hear His voice. This is how He speaks to us, friends.

When we listen to the love woven between the lines, when we sink in to the deep truths of His Word, it’s amazing how it will calm my spirit, help me take a deep breath, and press on.

I feel it’s important that I throw something in since this is for writers. You can use this or not. The one thing that has been hard to do through the cancer adventure is to write. It’s the hardest part.

I’m still speaking with no problem because, let’s face it, this girl never runs out of words. But the written word has been hard for me. And I want to say that because if anybody is dealing with any kind of anything that involves pain or medical stuff and you’re wondering, “Why can’t I get it together?” The Lord knows that about us.

I think those words are cooking inside of us. And when they’re cooked, when they’re ready, I believe God will poor them out richer and deeper for the time spent cooking inside us. But it’s hard for me, because I’ve pretty much put out a book, or sometimes two, every year, and it’s been a little while now, since I’ve had a book out. I’ve kind of been getting through cancer. But I’m through it now. So now it’s time to get back to the writing, and I’m just praying God will use what I’ve learned and pour it onto the page.

But I just want to give permission to your writer friends, if they’re going through some physical challenge, it definitely can affect your writing. And that’s okay.

Karen: That’s absolutely not just okay, God is in that, and God will use that.

Well, Miss Liz, I love you. So happy to have this time with you and to share your wisdom with our listeners. Friends, you can check Liz out at lizcurtishiggs.com, is that right?

Liz: That’s me. And my favorite place to hang is Facebook, so come on over there: Liz Curtis Higgs on Facebook. I’m on everyday. I respond to people. It’s a connection point for me.

Erin: We’ll put links in the show notes for everyone.

Karen: There ya go. Thank you so much for being with us. Liz. May God continue to watch over you and bless you and anoint your words.

Liz: Thanks, dear ones.

We want to hear from you!

Have you been blessed by an answer to prayer that you never wanted?

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Liz Curtis Higgs shares amazing ways God blesses us in the midst of answers we never wanted.

Here’s a link to the latest book by Liz Curtis Higgs, 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path.

Thank you!

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

Special thanks to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Priscilla L. Sharrow! She’s writing a book about her experience with traumatic brain injury, so watch for that! Learn more about Priscilla at her website priscillasharrow.com.

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

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