I had the amazing opportunity to interview Susan about her new book, Closer Than Your Skin. I pray that you will enjoy this, and that you will sign up for my give away for this life-changing book! Once you meet Susan, you will understand why this book is so very special!
1. For you, infidelity and alcoholism was the battlefield you had to stand on in your marriage. You chose to stay when many Christians would have said, “Adultery allows divorce according to scripture, so I’m out of here!” Why did you stay? What was the turning point when you realized God was working in the midst of the trial? I really believe marriage is sacred. I couldn't and wouldn't bail over just anything. Yet, if my husband continued in adultery or alcoholism, I would have lost my resolve--but he didn't. Also the swimming dream held a promise at the end, that my husband and I would "remarry" or enter into a new level of marriage if we persevered. In addition, in the dream where Duncan is six inches taller and I see Jesus standing right behind him, I knew I would be able to look up to Duncan with respect again, and that God was right there with us.
- Sometimes years pass during the process of God bringing us to Himself and “getting under our skin”. What would you say to encourage someone during this time of waiting/healing? While these "seasons" are real, I think we can shorten their duration by looking at the barriers that keep us far away from God. For instance, I recently read a quarterly journal where the writer talked about repenting of things like pride, self-pity, self-righteousnes, etc. To my surprise he also included "prolonged discouragement" in the list. I was stunned. Logically I believed that prolonged discouragement was the residual effect of going through long and hard trials--a natural sort of outcome. But here the writer implied that on some level, I let discouragement come in and take up residence in my life--in the same way people let fear come in. We dust and vacuum around it but it is the elephant in the living room. Tears flowed for a long time. People had told me that I always seemed a little sad, yet I wanted my life to be marked by joy. So that night, I took this new revelation to my home group and to my surprise, found many in our group felt under this same oppression. Together we "repented" of prolonged discouragement and disappointment with God and the result was startling. I have a light-heartedness that I have not known for years! All this is to say, if you're hungry for God, start examining the things in the way. Are you under condemnation? Do you believe God is like your earthly father? Are you being religious but missing the substance of your faith? Are you exhaustingly busy like a Martha? God wants these obstacles to come crashing down so you can know Him and feel His embrace.
- You offer some wonderful insight about parenting – facing difficult situations with teens. Again, there is painful waiting involved regarding circumstances over which you have no control. Many parents choose “tough love” and turn their backs in embarrassment. What constitutes ministering to your child vs. enabling their wrong choices? (i.e. getting help for addiction vs. sending them home with the local sheriff?) One main difference is recognizing when you have a teachable moment, and conversely, what has become a recognizable pattern of bad behavior. On a radio show, I heard a frantic mom call in saying that her 13-year-old son feigned illness to stay home and cruise porn sites online. Being a Christian mother, she was horrified! She shut down all her son's privledges, grounding him for the rest of his life, and get this, made him memorize Bible verses on purity. I winced as I listened. Of course the Dad came home and jumped on board with his wife, ministering shame and condemnation. The host of the show sighed, and then after a long pause said...You know, this could have been a perfect Dad moment. You could have put your arm around your son and told him he was perfectly normal in his desire to see the female body...But that God also has a better idea about that--a plan for his desires through marriage. He could have taught his son about sexuality. All too often we punish when we should teach first. However, when a pattern forms then I think God requires us to discipline our kids with boundaries, and consequences.
- You speak of the “Martha” syndrome of business in your book, and it truly seems that there are more programs and activities in our churches today than ever before. People in the church have little time with their families because they are exhausting themselves at church. How do you find a balance? As a recovering Martha, I still see the need to help at church and at the school. Generally, I set a boundary by being responsible for one thing in each area. But overall, I pray before saying "Yes" to anything that is a bigger commitment. I truly believe the church has far too many programs, and a few people doing all the work. Don't get caught in this trap.
- I love the way you encourage everyone to make sure that their insights/nudging from God be under the authority of scripture and leadership especially as it relates to something God might urge you to share about someone else’s circumstance. Could you elaborate briefly on that? I believe if you want to walk in authority in hearing God's voice for others, you need to walk under authority. When Jenny and I were in prayer ministry, we often asked those we prayed for to bring their pastor, or ask for his blessing. We also took difficult situations to our pastor and asked for his wisdom and guidance. Humility is a protection, and the antidote to presumption. Also, it can't be overstated that to hear God's fresh voice, you must be grounded in his written Word. There are no shortcuts here.
- A closing word about how God is using Closer Than Your Skin in your life now? Will there be another book to follow? What is God doing in your life right now? At the moment, I'm preparing for a book tour. This came about after two things happened: first, in church one Sunday, our pastor quoted 2 Corinthians 9:6 "...he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." As I travel to over 32 cities around the
, I will be giving free books at small gatherings to "sow" generously. Secondly, I also dreamed that I would be in large cities where people were shopping at 2:00 a.m., and there were robberies going on, and I heard sirens, but I was not afraid. I was lost, however, and trying to find my hotel. A policeman asked me where I was staying and I said, my hotel was called "The Ambassador." This dream showed me God was sending me out, instructing me to do this tour. Of course there is a love of writing, and the gift (shock) of getting published, but marketing is a little daunting and feels dangerously close to something I intrinsically hate: self-promotion. But giving books and speaking will probably be my agenda for the next 4-5 months. Then, I'll probably ask God what He's doing. The truth is, I never saw this book coming. So if there's another book for me to write, I guess I wait and see what happens. I think it's all about being ready and available to the Holy Spirit. There's an adventure in that! U.S.