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078 – Prayer: Your Most Powerful Weapon with Guest Brandilyn Collins

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Brandilyn Collins learned long ago about the real power of prayer. She’s seen it change—and save—lives. And she’s experienced this power for herself, over and over. Come hear what she has to share. You’ll never look at prayer the same way again.

Erin: Welcome listeners, welcome to The Deep. And you can probably hear I’m smiling as I’m welcoming you because I’m so delighted. Today we have a guest with us, and her name is the wonderful, fabulous Brandilyn Collins, and I’m going to let Karen introduce her.

Karen: Brandilyn likes to say I had no life before I met her, which in some ways is true. I met her so long ago that we can’t even remember exactly when it was. The best we could figure out just now is that it’s been almost twenty years that we have been friends, so of course I met her when I was around fifteen. Anyway, Brandilyn has over thirty books published in the Christian market, she’s known for her Seatbelt Suspense novels, her energetic and insightful speaking about God and His power to change lives, and her deep level of teaching of the craft of fiction. Many of her unique teaching techniques are based on the concepts presented in her book Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors. And that’s a great book guys, if you are a novelist and you haven’t picked it up go and buy it now.

Erin: I have a copy, you guys, it is good.

Karen: Yep. Her first book, called A Question of Innocence was actually a true crime, published by Avon in 1995, so she’s been publishing since she was fifteen. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio shows including, do you remember these, The Phil Donahue Show, the Leeza talk show. Her awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award three times y’all. The inspirational reader’s choice, the INSPY, Christian Retailer’s Best award twice and the Romantic Times reviewer’s choice. So, she is highly awarded, highly talented, but I gotta tell you, what those close to her think of when they think of Brandilyn is her prayer ministry. I have learned so much from Brandilyn about the power of prayer and about how we need to surrender ourselves to prayer. So Brandilyn welcome, we are so delighted to have you here.

Brandilyn: Oh my gosh thank you so much. After that introduction I’m trying to figure out how I can live up to this.

Erin: The beauty is you already have. So Brandilyn, you know, because we warned you, we always, always ask our guests, what does The Deep mean to you?

Brandilyn: The Deep to me means living and abiding so close to Jesus that my life is — He’s just with me every minute of the day. And I’m not saying I always manage that. But I’m learning it more and more, what it means to really, really live deeply with Jesus running your day and going with you. And I remind myself, you know, if I’m out I’m living deeply with Jesus, I’m His ambassador out there, whether I’m at a store or driving, whatever it is I’m doing.

Erin: I love that. Somebody said recently that we are either obscuring the vision of people that they have of Jesus in us or we’re clearing the way for the vision that people can see Jesus in us, if that makes sense. And that’s exactly what you’re saying, that you are His representative and you want people to see Jesus in you. I love that.

Karen: So Brandilyn, like I said, many of us have experienced prayer with you in the ministry you have in praying for people. So, when did you first experience the power of prayer in your own life?

Brandilyn: Well if you’re referring to the start of my prayer ministry?

Karen: Yes.

Brandilyn: Okay well that’s actually kind of an interesting story. You know I had Lyme when I was — in 2002 I had Lyme very badly, and I went — Lyme disease—and I went from running five miles a day to being crippled and not being able to read and not being able to write and not being able to speak very well and all of that. And in 2003, I had a miraculous healing.

So that happened to me, a miraculous healing. I mean literally, go into a prayer meeting and an hour later I’m running up and down stairs, you know the cane was gone, and it was literally like that. So after about three months, three months later, that was in May, in September of that year I went to the ACFW conference, which I’ve have emceed every year since it started, and I’m also on that board. And that year after our speaker we asked people to come down front and there would be a few of us down front to pray with them and just dedicate their writing to God. So, I was one of those people down front, ready to pray for whoever came to me and just pray about their writing, for God. So, this young gal comes down, comes to me and here’s what happened. Before I knew what had happened my hand shot out. Now look, I don’t know this person, okay, I don’t know her, I’ve never seen her in my life. My hand shot out, landed on her chest, I raised my other hand in the air and said, “Oh Lord, heal her heart.” Just like that, and then we looked at each other both of us like deer in the headlights, like, “What just happened?” “I don’t know. What just happened?”

I honestly don’t know who was more shocked. And the next day at that conference I passed her in the hall, and she stopped, and she said, “I could not believe when you prayed that for me.” She said, “I realized — I realize now I had come to this conference about writing and wanting to talk to God about my writing and wanting to start writing and sell my writing and all of that. But I realized God bought me here to heal me.”

Erin: Wow.

Brandilyn: And then she started — the whole story just started spilling out about her sexual abuse as a child. And so, she’s carried that in her heart all these years and has not been healed from it. And see here’s the amazing thing is that she came to me to pray for her writing, but God had a better idea. And this is what happens. God has a better idea about prayer than we do. And so, I realized — when she told me that I realized God was very merciful for me when He had me do that because honestly if He had given me a half a second to think about it, I never would have done it because it was too weird, right? But He just put my hand out there, He just made me do it. And then He brought it back around and gave me the encouragement of, “See, see this is what happened, this is how you listened to my voice.”

At that same conference, I was in the prayer room praying with somebody, she wanted — I don’t even know what she was praying for. There was this deep thing that was happening in my gut again, and it was like this woman’s stomach, her stomach, her stomach, and finally I said, “I know this is going to sound weird, and I don’t know what I’m doing, but God wants me to pray for your stomach.” And she looks at me and she screws up her face and she goes, “Stomach? Like, there’s nothing wrong with my stomach.” Now I would have backed off if God hadn’t had that other thing happen to me just the day before.

Erin: Right, right.

Brandilyn: But now I know, okay, something’s happening here. It makes me look really stupid, okay, but I have to do this. So, I said, “I don’t know what’s happening, just let me pray for your stomach. If you don’t mind I feel like I need to put my hand on your stomach and pray for you.” So it was a really awkward little prayer like, “Lord I have no idea what this is but bless her stomach, help her stomach, keep her stomach well.” Because God knows, right?

Karen: Right.

Brandilyn: So, it turned out that that woman in the coming years had terrible stomach problems. Went through two or three surgeries. Finally came out healed but could have died during that time. And what that did — interestingly, God didn’t keep the stomach issues from coming to her, but what that did for her is when they came it was a reminder to her that God knew this was coming before any of us knew, and God had us pray and she was going to get through it. She was going to be okay because that was God’s prayer that she had a strong stomach, not ours. It wasn’t our idea, it was His idea.

Karen: Amazing.

Brandilyn: Isn’t it amazing? I mean just amazing.

Karen: So, you’ve always been so good about sharing what God has done in your life, about sharing the healing and all of that. And I remember when you had to talk about the fact that, even though you had been healed, all of a sudden, the Lyme returned, tell us about that.

Brandilyn: Yes, oh my goodness. Well first of all, I was healed, and the world saw it. Okay, literally, it was filmed on, what is that show, that show that came out here and filmed, that big Christian show, The 700 Club. Okay, and they loved that segment, they played it over and over and over again and had it on their website and I had it on my website.

So, people knew all over the world that I was miraculously healed. Okay, I was totally well, six years, totally well. Didn’t think a thing about Lyme disease, then all of a sudden it came back, six years later. And I was just — I couldn’t believe it, and I went to God and said, “Have you thought this through? I mean, people know you healed me and now Your reputation is going to be ruined because they’re going to see I have this disease again. They’re going to think I was never healed in the first place. Seriously?” It was like all of a sudden God’s entire reputation was on my shoulders.

Then I happened to be teaching at Mount Hermon, and I was trying to keep it really quiet that I was sick again, but the leader of Mount Hermon outed me in front of the entire staff. And then I had to say, “Yeah, I’m sick again.” Honestly, I didn’t know what it was all about. All I knew is that I had to pray through it again, and that time I had no miraculous healing it was just meds, meds, meds.

Four years up and down, up and down until finally, four years later I got over it. But I do know now one thing that came through and maybe this is what that was all about. That second time around with Lyme I wrote my book, Over The Edge, about Lyme disease, I would not have written it had I not gone through it again. And that book sheds a light on the disease and the problems with diagnosis and all of that, and many people have picked up that book just to be entertained by a novel and have come to understand, “Oh my goodness, this is what I have that’s been undiagnosed for years.” Or, “This is what my friend has.”

I’ve had letters from people all over, “Thank you for helping to save my life. You know I’ve spent forty thousand dollars on doctors and I pick up your book and here’s the answer.” And so, maybe, maybe that sickness had nothing to do with me — was only for others.

On the other hand, I mean God is very efficient. He used it in my life, too, to just remind me that okay I had to go through this again, all right I had to pray my way through this again. And it certainly deepened my walk with Him. It certainly did. But it didn’t stop my own prayer ministry, my own prayer ministry that I told you about. It started in 2003, and it has gone on ever since, and ever since I have been able to pray with people, and God just kind of gives me this nudge, you know, “Put your hand there.” I mean if they’re willing, or pray for this, or pray for that.

I meet with people often at ACFW, at the prayer meeting. They come in for an appointment with me to pray. They usually have an idea, “I have this, this, and that.” But again, I always ask, “Lord, how do you want me to pray?” And He has other ideas and He leads me to areas and they say, “Oh yeah, I didn’t tell you about that.”

You know it’s just amazing, it’s just amazing what God does. And I think for all of us, whether you have a similar kind of prayer ministry or not, I think it’s a really good idea, before we start to pray with someone about an issue, is just to stop and say, “Lord, how do you want me to pray? Show me how to pray right now for this.” And then just be silent and let Him lead. So often we just blurt out the words.

Erin: Yeah, we blurt them out because we think we know the answer, we think we know how it should be. Wow, what a great word: stop, first.

Karen: I’ll tell you something, going through the Lyme disease with you and seeing you at Mount Hermon in a wheelchair which just, you know, knocked me solid because you’ve always been so healthy and running those five miles. I’ve always envied you that you have the fortitude to do that, and then to see you like that it was such a shock. And then the healing and that was amazing and I remember, when the Lyme came back. And I struggled with it, you know, from being a friend who cared about you and who’d been so amazed by God’s healing. And God spoke to me and taught me through that that we need to recognize that we don’t know — exactly what you were talking about where you said maybe this is why that happened—we don’t know for sure why that happened but God does.

And when we’re dealing with God in prayer, it’s a process, and He doesn’t always—the answer isn’t always one and done. Often times there is so much more involved in what He is doing. And the way that He answered you with that healing that started you in your prayer ministry, and then going back into Lyme symptoms deepened your walk and your relationship with Him. I think it even deepened your prayer ministry. I have been on the receiving end where you have prayed for me and what happens when you place your hand on me. And when you pray and ask for God’s intervention in things, it’s a powerful thing. And I think that comes because of the journey that you’ve walked with Him.

Brandilyn: Yes, yes, I’m sure, I’m sure. As I say, God is very efficient. He can use one thing for the good of many in many different ways.

Karen: Yes, indeed.

Erin: But what I heard, Brandilyn, is that you struggled that second time for four years with this disease. Surely there were times that you had some discouragement. What did you do to keep writing and to keep coping with that everyday challenge of these physical issues?

Brandilyn: Boy, I don’t want to sound like a cliché but honestly, I just kept in prayer. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

Lyme disease is so insidious because it comes and goes, and then you’re better, and you think you’re okay, and then bam, it hits you. I could go from being good to being down in an hour. And stuttering because I couldn’t talk well, and my mind won’t process and meanwhile I’ve got deadlines and I’m teaching at writers conferences and stuff. I just really had to be constantly in prayer that “Lord, you’re going to get me through this in your timing.”

The first time around when He miraculously healed me, He really taught me through that time because that time I started praying the Psalms when I could still read. I started praying the Psalms aloud, and He taught me how to praise Him. Even when I did not feel like it. And sometimes tears were running down my face because I was in so much pain, but He taught me to praise, because regardless of how I feel or whether I want to praise right now, He is worthy, and it is my will to praise whether it’s my feeling to praise at the moment. That was a huge teaching the first time around, and I’ve never lost that. And so, I kept that up the second bout.

Karen: That makes perfect sense.

Erin: That makes sense. So, what do you think is one thing our listeners could do today that would help them to go deeper into their life of prayer, in their writing journeys and in their lives.

Brandilyn: It’s a scary thing to do this because God tends to answer. But what I’m learning to do is to say, “Lord, whatever is between me and You, keeping me as close to You as I can be, deal with it. Take it away. Show me what it is. Help me either to fix it, with Your help of course. Or if I can’t fix it, if I can’t work my way through this, then take it out of my life. Remove what is in my way.”

Honestly God is such a God of gifts, He loves to give us gifts. He loves to give us many, many wonderful things. But so many times I think He’s kept from doing it because they’re not good for our spiritual life because we can’t handle them. And so, if God has given us something that we can’t handle, we either need to learn to handle that in a Godly manner, I’m talking about good things now, not bad things. Or maybe God needs to take that. And maybe there’s a deeper lesson learned in learning to deal with things that you thought you need, but you don’t need, and seeing what God has in place of those things that we set our eyes on. That is scary, because it does happen, and God gets to choose. It’s kind of like writing Him a blank check, you know, and signing your name.

Karen: I’ve talked with friends before about the fact that sometimes we get our hands so tight on what we think are God’s gifts for us or God’s purposes for us and we hold onto them so tight and do everything we can to make sure they don’t get away. But what we’re doing in that process is we’re keeping our hands fisted around what we think is God’s gifts for us, rather than keeping our hands open so that if He wants to remove that thing that we think is so wonderful, He can do that, but then to give us something even better.

Brandilyn: To give us something more.

Karen: Something more powerful. To give us more of Himself. And so we have to hold things loosely. We have to be willing to just loosen our grip and put our hands out to Him and say, “You give me what You want, and show me what You want me to be doing.”

Brandilyn: That’s right. It’s like the monkey that sticks his hand in the jar for a peanut but then he’s got a fist and he can’t pull it back out, but he won’t let go of the peanut.

Karen: So he walks around for the rest of his life with a bottle on his hand.

Erin: You know, you guys, I think that’s so much all about trust, right? It’s like if we could only trust. And that comes from seeing who God really is. If we could really see who God really is, how could we not trust Him? If we could even fathom one smidge of how wonderful and good He is, truly fathom that, then we wouldn’t be struggling with what we want to grip, you know?

Karen: So Brandilyn, if there’s one last bit of encouragement or wisdom, a Scripture that you want to share with our listeners, have at it.

Brandilyn: Let’s see…oh, of all the wonderful things I could say. You know, all you writers out there, God loves your writing and what you’re trying to do for Him. He loves you more. Your writing will expand and expound better, the closer you are to Him. And we writers can just spend—I know and listen, this is from experience – I spent so many years worrying about numbers and sales and oh my goodness I’m not selling enough and this and that. And that’s so easy for us to get hooked up in that we take our eyes off what God wants us to be focusing on.

We so often just need to refocus and say, “Lord thank You for whatever sales You gave me this month.” And not want for more. “Lord what can You show me in my life that will make me closer to You and make me a better writer for You.” Look at it that way. In the last couple of years, I’ve had major changes in my life where I started to be looking at God in that way, and I have just grown so much in the last couple of years. Man, I would not give away what I’ve learned in that last couple of years for all the sales in the world, honestly. I’m leading such a richer life, such a richer life.

Karen: That’s amazing. It reminds me of Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” Not in sales, not in our wisdom, but in believing, “so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope.”

Erin: Amen.

Brandilyn: Amen.

We want to hear from you!

How has prayer affected your life?
What do you think about the idea of praying the prayer Brandilyn did: “Lord, whatever is between me and You, keeping me as close to You as I can be, deal with it. Take it away”?

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Best-selling author Brandilyn Collins shares powerful truths about why prayer is our most needed weapon.

Special thanks

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

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

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077 – God Never Shows Up

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young God Never Shows Up Write from the Deep

Today we want to talk about how we use words. In particular, a phrase that needs to die. Because it has implications that lead us away from God’s truth. We’re writers, so let’s make very sure our words are filled with truth.

Here’s something I’ve heard many times that can skew our perspective on God. Someone says…

“We were singing and praying for this person’s healing and then God showed up…”

Singing? Great. Praying? Great. God showed up? Not great at all.

Now, we get that what they mean is that they saw or felt the Spirit move, and that’s wonderful. But when we use a phrase like “God showed up” to express that event, we’re implying that God wasn’t seeing, hearing, or acting until they sang and prayed. But He was there all the time. No matter what we do, He’s there. Whether we feel Him move or not, He’s there. Seeing, hearing, and acting as He’s promised to do.

The simple fact is that God doesn’t “show up.” He’s already there. He’s omnipresent.

“’Am I only a God nearby,’” declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NIV)

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;  if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)

Clearly, God is working. He doesn’t step in or show up, He’s already there, walking alongside you. More often than not, He’s weaving His power and majesty into the everyday things we do to survive in the midst of the deep.

Consider the example of Paul and the shipwreck from Acts 27. Paul’s been arrested and he had to appeal to Caesar in order to keep from being handed over to the Jews who would take him back to Jerusalem to try him. The way to Rome from Caesarea (in Israel) is a long journey west from port to port across the Mediterranean Sea before they can go north to Italy and Rome. Landing, putting out to sea, landing, putting out to sea. And they’re hindered all the way by unfavorable winds.

Eventually it becomes too late in the season to sail safely, but they’re caught in a harbor unsuitable to winter in so they press on, only to get caught in a terrible storm. They’re driven and tossed, they have to pass ropes under the ship to hold it together, they don’t see the sun or stars for many days, they throw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. They throw the tackle overboard. They take such a violent beating that no one even eats for 14 days, and they lose all hope of surviving.

But then Paul tells them to take courage because an angel of God told him everyone would be safe, but that they had to run aground somewhere. And that’s exactly what happens. They finally see land, they try to run the ship aground on the beach, but instead it gets stuck on a sandbar. “The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.”

The soldiers want to kill all the prisoners so they don’t somehow escape, but the Roman centurion doesn’t let them because he wants to spare Paul’s life. The centurion orders those who can swim to jump off first, and here’s what Acts 27:44 says:

“The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.”

This is not flashy. It doesn’t appear miraculous. No one was levitated or instantly transported. If you wanted to, you could believe you just got lucky. You could believe that your own hand saved you.

But God tells Paul about it beforehand so they would all know it’s God.

Just another thought about that. Karen is a strong swimmer. She grew up in Oregon and spent a lot of time at the coast. She can tell you this: Good swimmers drown all the time in powerful waves. Rip tides, under current, etc. Regardless of how strong these men were, for everyone to survive, it had to be God fulfilling His promise.

Likewise, God is there, intimately involved in your life, keeping you afloat in the midst of the deep.

Whether He’s doing anything that looks flashy or not.

Whether you FEEL Him or not.

Maybe you’re writing your book everyday and it isn’t coming easily and you feel God isn’t with you, isn’t in it, but if God gave you this task, He is helping. He’s there.

We’re so primed to have “experiences” of God. Instead of to quietly trust.

Another problem with the phrase “God showed up” is that it gives us a skewed perspective on how God responds when we pray.

If God has to show up, then we have to wonder: Does He even hear? Does He see?

That’s the problem with idols. Psalm 135:15-18 says:

“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

God, on the other hand, sees everything. And hears everything. We don’t want to say or do anything that could imply otherwise.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12 (NIV)

“As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.” Psalm 55:16-17(NIV)

Thank God that He does hear us, not only what we pray, but let’s go one better: He hears what we don’t even know how to pray.

“…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

The danger is in us not thinking He hears because we don’t see, feel, or hear an obvious or immediate answer.

Keys to How God Answers our Prayers

  • He chooses what the answer will be: yes or no or not now. Or not in your way, but in My way.
  • He chooses when to answer: in His timeline, not ours.

We can see this working in the book of Habakkuk.

“How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! Violence is everywhere! I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.” Habakkuk 1:1-4

Like Habakkuk, we think God isn’t listening if He doesn’t answer us NOW! But what Habakkuk learned was that God not only listens, He’s already at work. He had His plans and purpose for Judah and Judah’s enemies.

God’s answer to Habakkuk:

“Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” Habakkuk 1:5

God was already at work, and He was bringing the terrible nation of the Chaldeans to judge Judah. That was NOT exactly the answer Habakkuk was looking for! But it was God’s answer to accomplish HIS purposes in and through His own sinning people.

And yet, even in the face of the coming punishment, God did give Habakkuk some encouragement that those He was using to refine Judah would pay for their own evil as well.

So even in the hard truths from God that may come in answer to our prayers, He gives hope.

God doesn’t answer our prayers because we want Him to. He answers them to accomplish HIS purposes in our lives and the lives of others. And to bring glory to Himself. This is WHO He is – faithful, trustworthy, glorious. Answering prayer is one way He shows who He is.

We have a God who always sees, always hears, always knows our hearts, our thoughts. Before a word is on our tongue, God already knows it. He doesn’t need to show up. But He does use certain moments to let us see His grace, His presence, His work in a more experiential way.

Why is how we express that important? Because we are people of words, craftsmen of words, and we need to be purposeful in how we express things, especially when we express things about God. We need to be sure that what we say resonates with Scripture. He is always at work, and we can trust Him.

We want to hear from you!

Have you ever wondered if God hears your prayers? If He sees your situation? If He truly knows how you feel? What helped you in that situation?

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Warning! You may not be saying what you think you are about God!

Special thanks

We’re grateful to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow! Watch for her debut novel Blood Beneath the Pines, a suspense set in the deep South, releasing October, 2018!

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

Please share!
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076 – God’s Perfect Timing with Guest Martha Rogers

God's Perfect Timing with Guest Martha Rogers on the Write from the Deep podcast

Does it feel as though your journey to publication is taking too long? Guest Martha Rogers understands that feeling. Her lifelong dream of being a published writer came true—on her 73rd birthday! Come listen as she shares what God taught her about patience, trusting His timing, where to put her focus, and why His timing is far better than ours!

Thanks to our supporters on Patreon, we can now provide transcripts of interviews!

Special thanks to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow! Watch for her debut novel Blood Beneath the Pines, a suspense set in the deep South, releasing October, 2018!

Erin: Well, hello and welcome listeners, welcome to The Deep. We are glad that you’re here with us, and we’re again delighted to have another interview, another guest author to share their wisdom. Karen and I have so enjoyed these interviews to hear experiences throughout the body of Christ. It’s delightful. And so, we have Martha Rogers here with us today, and I’m going to let Karen introduce her.

Karen: Martha is just a wonderful person, let alone an amazing writer. And she and I, we were just talking about it, and we first met in the nineties at a now-defunct conference. It used to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was called the Professionalism in Writing Conference, and it was run by the inimitable Norma Jean Lutz who was as Oklahoma as it got, so it was a great conference, and we have really enjoyed—Martha and I have enjoyed our interactions in the times that we meet at different conferences. So, she is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and she is a speaker. Her stories and articles have appeared in a number of compilations and magazines, and her first novella released in 2007. It’s nice because her experiences as a public-school teacher, as a Sunday school teacher, a youth leader, a first-place leader, a mom, and a grandmother, all give Martha a unique field of ministry. She speaks at women’s retreats and events and at writers’ conferences and you can find out lots more about her at Martha W. Rogers that’s Rogers without a D so R-O-G-E-R-S, Martha W Rogers dot com. But you know the thing that I have always found the most fascinating about Martha and about her writing journey, is that her first novel Becoming Lucy was published when she was, get ready for it, seventy-three years young. And that was a realization of a lifelong dream for Martha, and we’ll talk more about that in just a minute.

Erin: So welcome Martha we’re so glad that you’re here with us. Say hello!

Martha: Hello everyone, I’m so glad to be here because I’ve always admired Karen, and she’s helped me so much with my writing.

Karen: Okay guys, in case you’re wondering Martha’s not choked up because I’ve had such a profound impact on her, she’s been dealing with a respiratory infection and yet she’s still here to share her wisdom with us today, so we really appreciate you taking the time Martha.

Martha: Well, I appreciate you having me.

Erin: So, we’re going to of course going to put you on the spot right away. Karen and I have some different ideas about what the deep or being in the deep or going through the deep means to us but, we love to ask our guests: when you think about the deep, what does the deep mean to you?

Martha:  Well it sort of means going deep down in me, really in my heart, in my soul, and knowing what God really means to me, and how I can get that across to my readers, and how much He can mean to them, in the same way.

Karen: Well that’s great. So, Martha tell us, when did you actually start writing?

Martha: As soon as I could hold a pencil, and tell my mother stories. She used to laugh at me and say, “Now Martha’s told you her version, let me tell you what really happened.”

Karen: So you were a novelist from the very beginning.

Martha: Oh, I was a storyteller from the word go. I made up stories for my paper dolls. But it became an escape for me, because my parents were having a lot of problems and when they divorced, my paper dolls became my perfect family, and I didn’t have any problems as long as I was playing with them.

Karen: Yeah, fiction has that power to transport us and sometimes you know people used to talk down fiction because they called it escapist reading, but you know sometimes you need an escape from tough things in life. So, tell us a little bit about your writing journey then. When did you first start going to writers’ conferences? When did you first think that this was something that was going to go beyond the stories with paper dolls?

Martha: I wrote my first novel in Alexandra Hall at Baylor University when I was seventeen years old, and I was taking English classes and I was taking creative writing. And my teacher in high-school had already told me that I had a flair for words. She said, “You have a gift with words, making people feel like they can just see what you’re talking about.”

And my college teacher said the same thing. She said, “I love the way you describe things, I love this and that.” I had a problem with grammar, the writing part was always an A, A plus, but I’d always make these little grammar mistakes. But I wrote my novel then and had my teachers read it and they would give me some pointers but they said no you’ve got to learn all this and do all this yourself, and so that’s what I was doing.

Karen: I remember once early on in my editing career I had a writer contact me and sent me a sample of her writing, and I wrote her back and I said, “You’re really not at a point where you’re ready to be edited yet. You need to do some more work on learning things like grammar and sentence structure.” And she sent an e-mail back saying, “Isn’t that your job as the editor?”

It’s not my job to write the book for you!

Martha: That’s right, that’s right. That book will probably never see the light of day, but it was fun to write, and I was looking back over it and the biggest problem I have now is keeping it in the language of the fifties. I keep wanting to change it. I thought that sounds so awkward, but that’s the way we talked. I wrote just like I was talking as a seventeen-year-old, so you know.

But anyway, it was fun. But I put it aside when I got married and had three boys. And when I went back to school, probably in the eighties and got my master’s degree, I was taking creative writing, and that’s when I really got back into it and started looking for an agent, started looking, you know, where can I get published? How can I get these things out there?

Karen: Well that’s a pretty substantial learning curve there, starting out when you’re that young and then going into the nineties to look for an agent, so how did that go for you?

Martha: Well I had an agent and he was okay, but he was not really…we weren’t really that compatible and I began to realize that, and we parted ways probably about 1994. And then I started going to the ACW conferences and I met Steve Laube and Steve gave me great advice. I went to a number of different conferences with him, then I went to PIW and met you and Francine Rivers and Cecil Murphy. Cecil Murphy, for some reason, took me under his wing and started giving me all kinds of wonderful advice and would read stuff for me and tell me where I needed to go, the direction that I needed to take and things like that. He was absolutely wonderful.

And Francine was a great encourager too. I would write to her and ask her questions, and she never hesitated to answer. It just amazed me how open and friendly she was. Now you scared me Karen. I was in awe of you. And then I finally got to know you and it was much better.

Karen: Oh, I’m glad! It would be a little unsettling if you were still scared!

Martha: No. I remember at Mount Hermon and you did those early morning devotional times, those were so precious to me. I just loved that.

Karen: Yeah, one of the few things that will get me out of bed early in the morning—besides fishing—is the early morning prayer and praise time at Mount Hermon.

Erin: Martha, I love the way that God has had His fingers on you. You know from way back into your childhood and how you have, you know, you were making up these stories and you were writing something way back when. Then that goes on hold for a while, but is not forgotten. And then you go back and you get this master’s degree and then God puts people in your life like Cecil Murphy and Francine Rivers and they speak into your life.

It’s like you have this long journey of people planting into you and God bringing this fruit. It’s like this tree that just takes a long time to grow and then one day there’s this fruit in how you get published. Tell us a little bit about how that first book got to be published.

Martha: Well it’s really funny I sent it to—well first I got Tamela as my agent back in early two thousands. Back when we were in Kansas City, I met her and then she became my agent the next year, and she was sending this novel out to several places and it went to, I’m trying to remember…Tyndale. And the editor there read it and she said, “I like this but we already have an author who writes so much like this that I can’t really get it past our board, but you need to send it out again.” And so she did. And when Charisma which is now Realms, the Realms division, accepted it and sent me the offer letter, I was just amazed and it was on my seventy-third birthday that I got the offer letter.

Karen: That’s one heck of a birthday gift!

Martha: Oh gosh, I was flat out amazed and then on July the fourth we were in Kerrville with my son on sort of a vacation trip and she called, and I was in the car. We were driving from Kerrville back to Fredericksburg, and she told me about it and I just nearly came unglued. My son almost had a stroke. “Mama, what’s wrong?” We were on the highway and he got panicked. He was so excited.

Karen: So you had this long journey from childhood until you’re seventy-three when that lifelong dream finally happens, so in the course of that journey—I mean every time I’ve met you, you’re always upbeat and you’re always happy, and you’re just this amazing influence on people around you—but did you deal with times of discouragement, times when you just felt like this was never going to happen?

Martha: Oh yeah, I would look around and I’d say, “God do you know what time it is? Do you know how old I am?” And I would be just like a little girl stomping my foot and saying, “Mama!’ And I thought well yes, God knows exactly how old I am and where I am, and He’s just being ornery and making me wait. But I knew that if it was going to happen it would, but it would have to be when He wanted it to, and when He thought I was ready. But it was hard being patient because that’s not my virtue, at all.

Erin: Well, it is now.

Karen: You’ve learned patience from this. What did you do to deal with those moments of discouragement?

Martha: Oh, I had so much other stuff going on. I had so many friends and my Sunday school department and the choir and Christmas programs and Bible studies and such. I was so busy, and of course teaching school, that I just didn’t let it get to me. I would mope for about a day or two when I would get a rejection letter and then just think, oh okay, and go on to the next thing and try something else. I just don’t stay down about things like that.

Karen: I think there’s a great deal of wisdom in that. You know, give yourself time, like you said, to mope and to maybe spit and stop your foot, but a limited amount of time. And then you move on to the next thing. It’s really hard for us, even though you know if you’ve been a Christian for a long time or a short time it’s really hard to trust that God’s timing is best. It’s hard because we want this thing to happen and especially since we feel as though in writing for Him we have truths to speak to people who need them. And yet it’s not happening and it’s not happening and it’s not happening. And that can take us into those deep and difficult places.

Martha: Oh yes and what’s weird is that right now is that I’m working on a novella that will be my fifty or fifty-first publication—

Karen: Holy cow!

Martha: —in that length of time. I’ve been writing a lot of novellas and we’ve found those sell. My friends love them because they say they can read them in a hurry, they don’t have to sit and worry about taking four or five hours or all day or something. They can sit down and read them and have fun and enjoy them and not have to spend all that time.

Karen: So, it’s like you found your niche.

Martha: Yeah. All my friends, they come over to my house and say, “Where are your books?” Because when I get them I have them lined up in a room and they come in like they’re browsing in a store.

Erin: But I love how through this your focus has not been solely get published get published get published. That hasn’t been your focus. You have had other things going on, and you have been open to God using you in all of those other facets. And I love that that’s how your story went. You know, so many times, I think we get too focused on just our own picture of how this is supposed to be and we lose sight of the things God wants us to be doing right now, while we wait.

Martha: That’s right. I mean having the choir and my Sunday school class and all these other things to do, my time was filled. I wasn’t concentrated on just this one little thing. I think that’s where we make a really big mistake is getting too focused on one thing and not keeping our eyes open to what else God has for us.

Erin: Right

Karen: That’s a really good point. I do think that because we have so much focus on learning the craft and going to writers conferences, we get tunnel vision on what we think this one thing is in our lives, and if this can just happen then everything will work out great and I’ll know I’m doing what God has asked me to do. But there’s such wisdom in saying you know that’s just one facet of what God has given us as a task and we need to keep our eyes and our heart open to the other places where He’s called us.

Erin: So, Martha what advice would you give to other writers who are maybe your age and they think that it’s too late.

Martha: Well, all I can say is just persevere, because if this is what God’s plan is for you, you can’t do anything to really stop His plan.

Karen: Amen!

Martha: Except, not to do it. If you’re working for Him, if you’re writing, if you are getting it out there, then you are in the process. And He will make something happen if that’s what He wants. But if His plan is for you to get published but you’re not doing anything but just sitting back and writing and saying, “Well this is okay I guess but nobody is going to want to read it,” then you’re never going to get it out there. So write, submit it, get it out there, and when God is ready, and if it’s His plan, it will happen.

Erin: Do you feel that there are some challenges that you face physically as just being an older writer? A senior writer we’ll call it. Do you feel there are some physical challenges and how do you deal with those?

Martha: I am very fortunate to have fairly good health. I have this lung disease that’s incurable and that I have to fight with, but it doesn’t hinder my actual physical being able to do things and go places and such. The only trouble I have now is I don’t move as fast, I can’t get places as fast.

Karen: Yeah, well Martha I just turned sixty-one this week and I don’t move as fast, so there you go.

Martha: I know, I used to walk three miles every morning in no time at all. And now I can barely make it around the block in that time. But I still have to try. I still have to do that. But I think one of the things that we have to understand is that God doesn’t put things in our lives without a purpose. And when those things come into our lives and we make it through and we see how His hand is on everything, we can always delve into that and go deeper into that and help our readers to see how He works.

One of those things was forgiving my brother. The turmoil and such I went through in learning to forgive him in what he had done and what he was involved in. Cecil Murphy helped me with that and said, ‘You’ve got to write this story. There are too many people out there who need this.” I did and Home Life Magazine picked it up and they published it. It was hard to write. It was very difficult to write because I had to go in deep into my feelings and show people how prejudice I was, and how I turned against him, and how I ignored the fact that I had a brother. And that was hard.

But I had people come to me and say, “I’ve been in the same situation and it’s helped me understand what I have to do.” And when this woman came up to me and told me that at a library in a church in Arkansas where I was visiting, and I had no idea who she was, and she just happened to hear my name from my sister-in-law and knew that I was a writer, and she said, “You wrote that article.” And I said, “Yes.” And then she told me, and if just that one person, if her life was affected, it was worth every minute I spent.

Karen: Wow, that’s wonderful.

Martha: But when you go deep into yourself like that and can pull out some of those hard, hard times that you had, and transfer them to the paper and your characters and let people see how things can be better, how God can take care of things.

Karen: And I think that’s one of the most important facets of being a writer is that we have be willing to look at our own lives and our own struggles our own faith journey first. And to let God work in those areas where we need to be refined and we need to learn forgiveness and we need to come out of the things that are holding us back spiritually and emotionally, and then we can share that process and those discoveries with our readers. And that’s when it impacts people. Your story was real and authentic and you shared your struggle. And that story, that truth about what God had taught you impacted other people.

Martha: That’s right. My grandson will be twenty-five years old this fall and for twenty-five years we have gone through day by day with him with cystic fibrosis. And up until a couple years ago we weren’t sure that there was going to come another day. We just lived each day with him as he progressed. But now he’s a young adult. It’s taken him twice as long to get through college, but he’s persevered, he’s going to graduate from LSU next year.

Watching what he has been through and knowing what God is doing in his life makes such a difference. You get such a different outlook. And when people say how can you smile? How can you when you know he’s this and you know this is happening, you know this is happening, how can you just keep smiling? Because Gods in control. He’s got it. I can’t do anything about it. If I stew and worry, I’m taking away time that I could be spending doing something else.

Karen: Oh exactly, how can we not smile? Because we have an almighty God who knows every single aspect just as He knew when to give you the storytelling ability, when to bring you to a place where you took it on as more of a profession. When to let your first book come out. He had all of that in control, anything that we look at in our lives, whether it’s a health issue, whether it’s something in our family like with your grandson, no matter what it is God has control of it.

Martha you’ve been so wonderful thank you so much for being with us, we have really loved hearing more about your story and about the ways God has sustained you and led you in the midst of it. I just pray that we can all open our hearts, to be submissive to Him and to smile, and remember that our God is a loving God who is taking care of us in ways we can’t even imagine.

Martha: You know when I survived my second cancer surgery in five years, I thought, Lord you must have something really coming up good because you let me go through this twice, and it carried me though.

Karen: I think we’re going to have to have you come on again! Your second cancer surgery? We’re out of time for today but holy cow we’re going to have to have you come back in and talk to us about all these things that God has brought you through, and until then thank you again for being with us.

Martha: Oh, I’ve enjoyed it, thank you.

We want to hear from you!

Do you wonder if it’s too late for your writing dream to come true?
How do you handle waiting in your writing journey?

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Is it ever too late for your writing dream to come true? Guest Martha Rogers says NO!

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

Want to know what’s happening at Write from the Deep? Join our newsletter! You’ll also get the free exclusive audio download5 Crucial Ways to Safeguard Your Writer’s Heart.

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075 – The Unexpected Power of Words

Unexpected Power of Words Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungEvery writer has a reason for what they write, a message they want to share through their stories and books. When we sit down to write, we have a solid idea of why we’re writing. But the amazing thing is that’s just the beginning! When you’re writing with God, He infuses your words with His power and truth. And He draws the readers who need HIS message to your work. Which means your words will have more reach and more power than you will ever know!

Thanks to the authors who shared their stories of the unexpected reach of their words!

Links to authors and books mentioned:

Linda Goodnight, New York Times bestselling author of The Memory House, book one in the Honey Ridge Novels.

Christy Johnson, author of Love Junkies: 7 Steps for Breaking the Toxic Relationship Cycle.

Karen Ball, author of The Breaking Point.

Vickie McDonough, author of A Wealth Beyond Riches.

Sharon Srock, author of Pam, book 3 in the Women of Valley View.

Erin Taylor Young, author of Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe.

The bottom line? God has His purposes. He knows you in ways nobody else does. He knows your story. He knows how that story can reach out and touch someone and help them when they don’t even know that they need it. Be faithful in the task that He’s given you to write. Never ask yourself, “Who will read this?” Never worry about whether or not your work will have an impact. When you enter into a task that God has given you, when you follow in obedience what He’s called you to do, when you open your heart and your craft and your story to Him, and let Him come in and infuse it with His truth, His peace, and His love, it will impact lives in ways you never expect.

We want to hear from you!

Do you have a story about the unexpected reach of your words? Share it with us!

Tweetable

Do you ever wonder if the words you write matter? They do. And in ways you never thought!

Join Team Deep! Visit our Patreon page to learn how you take part in the vision!

A very special thank you to our Patreon sponsor of the month Bobbi Updegraff!

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074 – When Your Life Turns Upside Down with Guest Deborah Raney

When Life Turns Upside Down with Guest Deborah RaneyHas the deep turned your life upside down? Beloved author Deborah Raney knows exactly how you feel, and shares what she learned about trusting God when it seems your life will never be the same. Come listen in for her words of encouragement and wisdom!

Thanks to our wonderful patrons on Patreon, we can now provide a complete transcript of interviews!

A special thank you to our Patreon sponsor of the month, Bobbi Updegraff!

Erin: Welcome everybody to the Deep. We’re so glad that you’ve joined us today, and we have a guest joining us. Yay! We love it when we have guests. Today we have author Deborah Raney. She’s taking time out of her busy schedule and coming to us from Kansas. So welcome, Deb.  We’ll let Karen introduce you.

Karen: Deb and I were talking just before we started recording trying to figure out how long ago we met, and we just figured out that it was in 2001. So we’ve known each other for 17 years, and that it was at a writers retreat that we were both part of where we met. I have watched Deb in her career and so respect what I’ve seen of her and heard of her in just living out the Christian life. She has a depth of faith that has blessed me many times and great wisdom that has blessed me many times. You know this woman dreamed of writing books since she read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books and discovered that a Kansas farm girl could indeed grow up to be a writer.

She’s got more than 30 books. She’s garnered multiple industry awards and her first novel, A Vow to Cherish shed light on the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. The novel inspired a highly acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title and continues to be a tool for Alzheimer’s families and caregivers, and I especially appreciate that because a woman who is in essence a pseudo Aunt for me has been dealing with Alzheimer’s now for about the last five to six years and watching the ravages on her dignity and on the struggle with her, and her kids taking care of her—it just breaks your heart. So Deb, thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for the work that is helping those dealing with Alzheimer’s and just thanks for being you.

Deb: Aw, it’s my pleasure to talk to you guys today. I’m so glad you invited me.

Erin: Thank you. And you know, we’re gonna put you on the spot right away because the first thing we always like to ask everybody—because everyone has a different take—what does the deep mean to you?

Deb: I guess the first thing I think of when I think of the deep is just going those deep places that God takes us. You finally learn if you’re a Christian long enough that it doesn’t mean all kittens and ponies and butterflies. You know, absolutely God takes us into some very deep places and that’s where we learn. That’s where we grow. We don’t like it very well while we’re there, until we come out and we realize that we wouldn’t trade that experience for anything because we have grown closer to him. We have learned that he is there and that he’s a personal God and He loves us and he wants to get us through those times and teach us through those times.

Karen: Yeah. It’s so easy when you meet someone like Deb who just has what seems to be this naturally sunny disposition, and she’s always smiling, and she is a real encourager. You think to yourself, well, she’s never known a day of suffering. And then you find out she is the way she is, she has the spirit she has, because of suffering.

Deb: Yeah, not a whole lot. I mean truly compared to a lot of people, I’m very, very grateful. I haven’t gone through a lot of really difficult things. But the things that I have gone through, God has used I think to make me into the woman he wants me to be, and I want to be that woman.

Karen: Right, so let’s talk about that. What are some of the deep places that you’ve gone through with God and what did you learn from them?

Deb: Probably the very first thing that God took me through was losing my little sister. She was a newlywed of 21. She had been married just three months. Got married on her birthday, and she was killed in a car accident. I was pregnant with our second child at the time, but I had never lost anyone except for a ninety-two-year-old great grandmother. It was my first.

And just weeks before this happened, I had told a friend that I probably would just go crazy if I ever lost anyone and especially if it was someone too young to die. Instead, truly, I mean, I’m not gonna say that there was no grief, that that was an easy thing to go through at all, but it was absolutely amazing how God met me and my whole family in that moment. And there were silver linings just all over the place in that story.

Erin: How did you deal the answer of somebody too young to die? How did you cope with that?

Deb: I think maybe we were all so much in shock that we didn’t even start asking those questions until later. You know, my sister was just about to get her teaching degree. And I remember the first question was: She would have been such an amazing teacher, how could you take someone like her? And  the next question was: We loved her husband, he had become part of our family in the time that they had dated and been married. We wanted him to go on and have a wonderful life, but we didn’t want to lose him either. And in an amazing, miraculous way, my brother-in-law met a woman who embraced our family like we were her own. And the older I get, the more I realize how very difficult that had to have been for her. To this day we still have a very wonderful warm relationship with them. They work with Family Life Today setting up the Weekend to Remember marriage conferences. They are just an amazing family. They have four sons and when their oldest son got married, he asked my parents to be seated with the grandparents as honorary grandparents.

So yeah, truly just such a blessing. And in answer to your question, Erin, how we dealt with that, how we could see God in that, I think as time went on and we started seeing some of those silver linings, seeing people who watched my family go through that time who said, “I don’t understand how you’re getting through this but whatever it is that you have, I want it.” And even over the years right up until just a couple of years before my mom’s death, my parents were still traveling when they heard of someone who lost a young child in a car accident they would travel and go be with those parents and just share their experience how God brought them through it. And it just opened up ministry all throughout our family. And brought our family closer too. I mean, we were close, we were a very warm and loving close family. But today we are like this and, I know we’re not on video, but we are tight now. We’ve gone through some really hard things as a family and that set the foundation for how we would get through things with God’s help.

Erin: Wow, so that was golden. Give us more. She’s got more places everyone.

Deb: Well, this wasn’t such a deep place, but my desire in life, I mean, I knew from the time I was 11 or 12 that I wanted to be a writer, but before that, I wanted to have 12 children. Yeah, I know, I was crazy. I knew not what I was saying.

Karen: I was going to say you were insane.

Deb: No, I was totally ignorant. But I’m the oldest of five children, and so, you know, I practically raised my baby sister who’s eight years younger than I am. So I wanted 12 kids. When I was 17, doctors started telling me that I probably would not be able to conceive, and I thought no big deal. I’ll just adopt 12 children. And so that became what I thought would probably be part of my story. But the Lord intervened, despite doctors continuing until I had my hysterectomy 10 or 15 years ago, continuing to tell me that it was a miracle that I gave birth to four children, because I don’t seem to ovulate, but apparently I did. And our kids are very much spread out. We had a baby in the seventies, two in the eighties. And then our youngest little oops baby came along in 1990. So there is 14 years between our kids, and they’re all just incredible blessings. And I didn’t have to wait as long as some women have to wait, and some women, I know, never have that prayer answered in the way they want it to be answered. But for me, God did answer that prayer and I’m forever grateful for that.

Erin: Wow, I’m beginning to understand why you write the books that you do. She writes books about issues and hard things. And they’re great books, you guys. You definitely need to read them. But I’m seeing that your life is filled with these kinds of tough questions, and these types of deep roads. So what how have you used what you’ve gone through in your writing?

Deb:  It’s funny because, in many ways, I feel like in my first books, I could write about really deep, hard things because I hadn’t been through too much deep. My life in general was just happy-go-lucky. And so I could go to the deep places and then come out and live my happy little life. In recent years, and I feel almost guilty saying I’ve been through some really deep hard times. It’s all relative—

Karen: No, hang on a second though. I’m going to speak to that. It’s like I feel bad when people start talking about their salvation stories and how God came in and saved them from these horrific lives or these terrible things that they had done. And I am like you are, Deb. I had this golden childhood that was full of laughter, and I was a very happy child, and I tell people I was converted when I came out of the womb. So I don’t have any big conversion story. But my story is my story, and it impacts people. Your story is your story, and those are deep places for you, when you went through them. For all of you listening, your story is your story. And it’s your story that God uses to touch people. So no more disclaimers. You have been through some hard places and we respect that.

Deb: Okay. I own it.

Karen: That’s right.

Deb: Yeah, so that is true. But I’ll say that in recent years, I feel like that God has used more the actual things that are happening in my life, for me to pour into the book that I write, and that’s okay too.

I mean, it’s just interesting how there was almost like just a division there. With my first half of the books, the first 15 books I wrote, I really kind of had to pull out of my imagination. I had not lived those things. The more recent books have a lot more of my real story, and of course you’re writing fiction, you have to change all the names to protect the innocent and all of that.

As an example, nine years ago my husband was laid off from his job. And we, I mean, we’d thought we were home free. We’d been married 30 some years and uh had a great marriage and have really not ever had… I mean, we have all the normal issues that marriages have, but nothing…we had never used the d-word and we still haven’t. But boy did we come close.

Karen: The only d-word I ever used was death.

Deb: That’s a good one. Yeah, and we had always said that would be the option before the other d-word—divorce. That just wasn’t a word in our vocabulary. But what happened is that okay, a man gets laid off when he’s in his 50s. He doesn’t have a college degree. It’s a very difficult time to be looking for a job and the job market was not great. And so this man decides that he feels like God is saying, “I don’t intend for you to get another job. I intend for you to go out on your own and start a new business.” And I’m like, are you crazy? I mean, I truly thought he had lost his mind. And God was not telling me the things that he was telling my husband. And that did not seem fair. It was a really, really difficult time. I look back and I saw things in myself that I didn’t know were there. Ugly things. Not good things. And, talk about the deep, I mean that was, that was just, uh, even now I apologize to Ken over and over. Nine years later, I’m still apologizing.

And yet, you know, even looking back and seeing how everything turned out, I understand why I was so terrified of this life he was asking me to follow him into. The one thing I look at is, my husband had always been so supportive of everything that I felt God was leading me to do. I wanted to stay home with my kids, and Ken sometimes worked two jobs so that I could do that. And when I started writing he just could not have been more supportive. He supported me in every way on a journey that we didn’t know whether it was going to turn out, you know, the way we hoped it would or not. For all we knew it was going to be a worthless endeavor, a waste of time and all of that. So I don’t know why I couldn’t see that man and realize that God was using him then, so why would he not be using him now? But I could not see that. And I would wake up at three o’clock in the morning absolutely on the verge of a panic attack just terrified. Terrified that I was going to lose the ability to see our kids and our grandkids because they live far away, and with what my husband wanted to do, we were going to have zero money to go travel and see those kids. And I just remember I would wake up terrified, and I would go out to the living room at three o’clock in the morning with my Bible, and I would open it up. And sometimes I could read it, and it would offer me comfort, and sometimes I couldn’t do more than just put my hands on it and say, “Lord, be with me get us through this.”

There came a point when the severance package was gone. And when we had to make some decisions. We had a daughter who was still in high school. She was in her senior year of high school headed to college. How were we going to pay for college? Just so many unanswered questions. I remember one Sunday, it was a hot day in July and we were headed out the door to the car to go to church and things were not good between us. Ken had preceded me out the door and he literally turned around and he said, “We have no business taking this to church.”

We went and we sat out on the deck with the Bible, and we prayed together, and we read the Bible together, and we just asked God to be there. And I don’t know what happened. We fasted that day, and I don’t understand the spiritual practice of fasting, but there is something there, something powerful, and from that day on I could not worry. I was incapable of worrying about our situation. I would wait, I would wake up at three o’clock in the morning and say, “Okay. Okay. I’ve got to worry. I’ve got to get all worked up here. No, there’s nothing there. I can’t.” It was the most supernatural thing. It was just incredible. And from that day, one thing after another, nothing terribly dramatic, it’s not like suddenly we won the lottery and everything else. But one day at a time, the Lord took care of us. And it was exactly like the day that Ken came home from work early and told me that he had been laid off. He took me in his arms, and he said, “The Lord has taken care of us for 35 years. There is no reason to think he won’t continue to take care of us.” And I believed it that day, but you know, when the rubber hit the road and things got real, it was a lot more difficult.

Fast forward to today, nine years later, and we are living our dream life. And if the Lord had not taken my husband out of his day job this never would have come to pass. And we would have been too afraid to make the decision for him to quit his job so we could explore this. It just so happened that this all was happening at the time when self-publishing was becoming a possibility and lots of writers were needing book covers designed, and just all the things that Ken had the skill to do. He was able to step in and start his own business and be very successful at it. Today he travels with me when I go to conferences. He teaches at conferences, teaches a great class called graphic design for writers about working with your publishing house on all the different graphic things. And we could not be happier.

Now, I’m not gonna say that these whole nine years have been happy. There have been an adjustment periods and redirection periods and all that, but God has been faithful every moment. Every single moment.

Erin: What’s interesting about what you’ve been saying is that I keep hearing the word fear. Fear and worry. Not only was it fearful for you to go into that situation, but I loved how you also said, “We would have been afraid to do this.” And yet prayer it seems, fasting and prayer, really overcame fear in a supernatural way. Sometimes I think we want to overcome fear in our own way. You know, “Oh, we don’t have to be afraid. Our mind can do it.” Sometimes it’s that supernatural thing that God gives us. The ability to not fear, to follow that scripture that says, “Do not fear, for I am with you,” and so I love that your story is that.

Karen: And I think it’s actually not sometimes. I think it’s in every circumstance. Like it talks about the grace that we receive is a gift and it has nothing to do with us. That God has given it out of his love for us. So, any relief of the things that we humans like to do, that is supernatural. That is God stepping in.

Deb: So many times, I couldn’t count how many times, I said to Ken, “This makes no sense. What you think God is leading us to do, makes no sense to me.” And I think that the Christian life sometimes doesn’t make sense. We were talking in our Sunday school class this past Sunday, and there came a point when the conversation was about God answering prayer and I wanted to stand up in that class and say, “I want to see a show of hands. How many of you would say that God answered your prayer in exactly the way you thought he would?” And we think that the answer would have been zero.

Karen: Yes, indeed.

Deb: We always have a great idea how God could just do this, this, and this, and it would all work out perfectly, and when he does that, that, and that, and everything comes together, we can only look back in awe and know that he did it. We didn’t do it. His solution is always, always better. And the other thing that I think about that is that when we go through really hard times like that though the wonderful gift that is in that, I don’t want to call it a reward for us being faithful through that but maybe it is, and that is that I feel so much better equipped for whatever our next trial is. Because I will always, always be able to look back on that time and know God was there. Even when I couldn’t pray, even when I couldn’t feel him there. He was there. There’s nothing you could say that would ever make me doubt that. I know that because I experienced it.

Karen: Deb, that’s amazing and such great words for each one of us—that if we look back on the evidence of what God has done in our lives, if we look back at those times when we begged him to set us free from the deep, and yet he kept us there for his purposes. If we can just recognize who he is, that he is God and he is in the process of refining us, but he’s also a loving father who wants to bless and encourage and delight us. You’ve been a wonderful messenger for him today. Thank you so much for being with us. Erin and I so appreciate it.

Listeners, I think we neglected to mention that you can find out more about Deb on her website, deborahraney.com. Deb, please, continue doing what you’re doing, Deb. It’s an inspiration to all of us and thank you so much for being with us.

Deb: I loved our time together. Thanks, you guys.

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Have you ever felt like your life was turned upside down? What did you do?

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Guest Deborah Raney shares what to do when your life turns upside down!

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