Page: Karen, thank you so much for joining us. Your latest book, What Lies Within, has the theme of complete surrender to God. What experiences have you had in surrendering to His will?
Karen: The most difficult one was surrendering in my marriage. God called me to love Don as I’d love Christ, sacrificially and completely. That was the last thing I wanted to do. But He didn’t let up, and I finally let go of my anger and so-called “rights,” and did as I was bid. Things didn’t improve right away, but that was the first step to God’s work in our relationship. We’ll be celebrating 28 years of marriage on Dec. 21! That we’ve gone from a place of anger and resentment to a partnership of love and respect is purely God’s grace. But the first step was surrendering to HIS way rather than my own.
Page: Congratulations! My husband and I will celebrate 19 years on December 17th. The best piece of advice that we received when we got married was that both of us should give 100% to our marriage. “Wedded bliss” is not a 50/50 proposition. I personally think marriage, just like writing, is a calling.
In your latest book, the main character, Kyla Justice, finds her purpose in life through a inner-city youth center. How long did it take you to realize your “sense of purpose?”
Karen: I think in some ways I knew it from the time I could tell stories, when I was just a kid. There’s this place in my heart that just belongs to the power of story. But it wasn’t until I’d graduated college that I knew I was called to work with Christian fiction. And I’m so delighted I was! It’s been a wonderful calling.
Page: And it’s obvious that you enjoy it! I’ve seen you at conferences and know that you are quite a character! Does your “living out loud” ever draw criticism from other Christians? If so, what is your response?
Karen: Not so much my being a character or living out loud, but the fact that I tend to be opinionated. Sometimes those opinions hit people wrong, or they misunderstand what I’m saying. Because I say things with such conviction, they figure I’m fixed on what I believe and won’t even consider another side. So I’ve been slammed a couple of times, both professionally and personally. When I’ve been faced with these kinds of things, my response is to tackle it head on, but to do so as calmly as I can. (Which sometimes mean I take a couple of days to vent before I even try…). My goal is always to reason through things together, to apologize where I’ve truly wronged or offended, and move forward in peace.
Page: And that’s what we’re called to do. As Paul said, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11, ESV)
Thank you so much for taking to the time to answer these questions. My copy of What Lies Within (Family Honor Series #3) comes in next week. I look forward to reading it!