No More Secrets

NO MORE SECRETS FINAL WEDITS

Is there a chapter of your life you wish you could just delete? What if, instead of deleting it, God chose to redeem it?

Julie Steck had followed Jesus since she was three years old, yet she still struggled with sin. Why? Shouldn’t being a Christian make life smooth sailing, void of struggles?

When she heard that some families in her church were tangled in affairs, she realized that if they could fall, she could too. So she took a close look at herself and asked God some hard questions. How did this happen? What in my life needs to change to keep this from happening to me?

As God often does, He answered her prayer in a way she didn’t expect: a year-long process of dealing with the things in her past that she stuffed away rather than dealt with. Throughout that year of struggle, she discovered the greatest display of God’s grace is to show us our desperate need of Him.

 


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As I flung open the door, my childhood best friend stood before me, handcuffed to a chair. The man who had captured her shouted for me to leave, or else. I left. Immediately, I entered a large, open parking lot. A stranger standing beside the only truck around flagged me down. Cautiously, I approached. He explained there were more in similar troubles. “People everywhere are being taken captive under heavy guard,” he said. I spent the remainder of the night barging into churches, grocery stores, shopping malls, and camping trailers locating these captives, but I had no way to set them free.

Finally, I woke up.

The smell of sweat had stained my night clothes, but I was thankful it was just a dream. I tried to forget about it and get on with my morning. I hadn’t even finished breakfast before I realized: that first captive may have looked like my best friend, but it was really me.

God was about to knock on the door of my heart with a trash can, a broom, and a mop, ready to come in and do some major cleaning. What happened over the next twelve months changed me forever. The days ran together. The nights were long. Sometimes I couldn’t eat. It may look neat and tidy written on paper, all properly spaced and edited beneath a chapter title, but believe me—in real time, it was messy.

Before we get started in the main story, let me catch you up a bit, since we are brand new friends.

I grew up in a Christian home. We attended a small, country Bible church regularly where I sat in comfy maroon chairs and heard the straight forward message of Grace. As a teenager I actually started listening to what the pastor said instead of watching the minutes tick by on my watch. By the time I left my parents’ house, I understood that my salvation didn’t depend on anything I did or didn’t do, but only on believing in Jesus.

It sounds so simple and easy.

Yet the working out of that gospel can often be a long road, as this book will describe.
If you were to ask me my favorite movie, I would immediately reply, “Anne of Green Gables.” I always identified with Anne: “Anne with an E.” Anne loves a good story, dreams big dreams, is passionate about life, has a fiery red independence, but is full of courage and love for others. She stands out in a crowd. She’s not afraid to plow full force ahead in life.
I even had a childhood friend, Bethany, who reminds me of her kindred spirit Diana. One day Bethany asked me if I would come over while her husband was out of town and watch Anne with her. She didn’t have to ask me twice!

I remember watching the movie for the first time with my mom. I was on the edge of my seat when Anne slammed her blackboard on top of Gil’s head. I giggled when she refused to forgive Gil for calling her “carrots” after her red hair.

I stood up to dance into her place when she left Gil’s embrace when they were alone in the open field. He wanted to ask for her hand in marriage, and she walked away. He chased after her and still asked that question on one knee. But she refused. I wanted to scream at her!

In fact, I think I did yell, “No! Anne, don’t you see he loves you? He loves all of you! He doesn’t want any other girl. He wants YOU!”

I remember needing to fast forward to the end just so I could know if they ever stopped playing this stupid game and actually got married. If I could just know, my heart would stop racing in wonder.

Just like Anne, I imagine myself in every good story I read. I always wanted a love story that went something like hers—although I told myself not to keep him waiting as she did. He might just move on.

I met my husband at age sixteen on the edge of the local trailer-park swimming pool. Actually, first, I met his stunningly beautiful sister and wondered if she had any brothers that could have inherited one-fourth of the good looks that she did. Little did I know then, but she had four brothers, only one home and available.

A couple days later, this guy shows up to the pool wearing blue jeans, steeltoed boots, and a white tee-shirt. Clearly, he was ready to jump in.

After initial introductions, his first “line” to me was about my keychain, lying on the table, with the initials JCF on it. He pointed to the J. “What does that stand for?”
“Julie” I said.
And on down the line it went.

Apparently he tried to find my phone number that night, because the next day the other neighborhood kids who liked to gather around the pool attendant told me he called them looking for my number. The what-does-this-letter-stand-for charade was his way of finding out my last name so he could look it up in the phone book later.

Too bad for him, my phone number wasn’t listed by my last name. Due to a re-marriage, my last name was different than my parents. And now I was on to him. He was interested in me for sure!

About a month later, he asked me out in a very similar, roundabout way.
We laugh about it now, but he was still in driver’s ed when we met—three weeks away from his sixteenth birthday. And he happened to be in the same class with a longtime friend of mine, LaTosha. When they put the pieces together that they both knew me, she innocently asked, “So are you two going out?”

To which he had no reply. He hadn’t asked yet.

So, we’re sitting at the round poolside table together, looking out at the sea of people, and he’s telling me that LaTosha is in his driver’s ed class, and she asked him if we were going out.

“What should I have told her?” he innocently asked.

“Hmmm,” I said. “What would you like to tell her?” I inquired, raising my eyebrows.

“That we’re going out!” he said.

“Okay,” I said, “I’d like that, too.”

So that’s how it all started. For our first date, I drove us to Grandy’s and a movie. Later he finally reached sixteen and could come pick me up. I liked being older when we were teenagers, but I’m afraid as the years tick by, it will become less and less amusing.
I noticed early on that Adam was gifted in building. He would come visit me by the pool with graph paper and a pencil. He spent hours drawing out a house he wanted to build for his mom, and another hour on a house for himself.

Even then, at only sixteen years old, I loved his passion and focus. I loved how he cared for his mom and seemed to have his head on straight. He wasn’t your normal sixteen-year-old.

I know we scared the pants off my parents, but that story is for another book. We dated the remaining two years of high school and knew this was serious: serious enough to consider where to go from here once we graduated.

We wanted to go through pre-marital counseling but didn’t know when that would work. I was looking at going away to college, so it needed to be before high school graduation. We decided that January of 1999 would be a good time to begin talking with my pastor.
Pastor Craig sat down weekly with us for a couple months, while my parents were at home, chewing off their fingernails as they awaited the final verdict. He made us talk about serious stuff, like “Can you live with Adam as he is right now, today, for the rest of your life? Think of the one thing you would like to change and imagine that never changing. Can you live with it? Because it probably won’t change!” By the end, we still wanted to get married. So he told my parents his verdict: They’re young, and it’s going to be tough, but they’ll make it.

He approved our marriage, and we thought we’d wait about two years to give each of us time to at least get our Associate’s Degree. I had decided to stay at the local junior college, so that made sense. Except for one thing. Now that the engagement was official and we were all counseled up, why wait two years? It seemed so long. So, we made another appointment with Craig the next week to bring it up. What if we just waited one year?

We talked about it awhile, and he agreed. So we went on our way with those plans.
But on the drive home, I kept rolling it around in my head. If we knew we wanted to get married, and we were all counseled up, why wait twelve whole months? That’s still agony!

So we scheduled another appointment and brought it up again. Again, the date was moved. In a matter of two weeks, the wedding went from two years away, to one, until we finally decided—in January—that the date would be July 31 of that year (1999).
My mom is reeling now. “It was all the pastor’s fault,” she still says, with a grin.
So, I graduated high school in May, Adam turned eighteen in June, and we married in July. What a summer!

I don’t regret a thing. I will say, getting married young isn’t for everyone, but it was for us. Our pastor said, “Better to be married than burn with desire.” There was definitely a fire of desire lit between the two of us.

In 2003, Adam and I started our own business. A company that manufactures metal panels for steel buildings, roofs, and barns. That’s the boring, technical way of saying we have the privilege of building people’s dreams. We literally get to put up the frames of a house or barn someone has saved for years to build.

Business is something my husband is passionate about, and building is something he’s truly gifted at. Adam has worked in the construction industry since I met him at the pool. Even then he was working for one of his older brothers who ran a construction team, building and remodeling houses.

He continued working with this brother even after we married. About three years into our marriage, they ventured into installing metal roofs. Business was rockin’ and rollin’ until the sales guy from their supplier kept repeatedly dropping the ball. Either the metal wasn’t there when he said it would be, or it wasn’t right, or the paint was chipped, and they couldn’t get in touch with the sales guy. They were stuck. After a while, you grow tired of being stuck. Being the entrepreneur that my husband is, he said, “I can do this.” Two months later we were leasing a shop, thanks to a friend of a friend, and the equipment to roll our own metal panels was on its way from Germany.

We were in the metal supply business! And that’s what we’re still doing today.

So what about kids? Well, twenty-nine days before our fourth anniversary and four months before the equipment rolled into the shop, our first son, Caleb, was born. Caleb is one of those classic firstborns you read about. You know those parents who have angels for first children, only to be shocked when their second one rocks their world? That wasn’t me. I only considered having more children because I knew the next one couldn’t possibly be as hard as my first! I like to tell myself that the Apostle Paul would have been a strong-willed child too.

Two and a half years later, our little elf Mackenzie blessed our family two days after Christmas. She taught me about bilirubin count and ear infections. But her smile adds sunshine to my life every day.

When our third child, Zach, was born, life felt new and complete all at the same time. After three C-sections, my doctor suggested adoption if we wanted more children. My scar line was wearing thin.

Our life has never been a smooth ride, but somehow, through it all, our marriage has stayed strong. We have grown up together. Adam often reminds me we’re a team. For each other, not against.

I would love to say the formula to a great marriage is to read XYZ book and follow these five simple steps. I may have even said that, seriously, before this year hit. After going through this year you’re about to read about, our marriage is still standing strong because of God’s amazing grace—and nothing else. For that I am most grateful.

***
Prior to the dream about my best friend being held captive, the Lord gave me another dream which actually started out this year. I saw a person I knew standing beside a large, old, rusty trunk lodged beneath a lovely garden. He opened the lid without having the combination and looked inside. The Lord spoke to me, saying, “It’s time to open this trunk and straighten it up a bit.”

“No!” I countered and slammed the lid shut.

“I’ve planted a beautiful masquerade garden on top of it, and I don’t want to mess it up. I’ll have to start all over!”

“Yes, you will, but I’m asking you to open it up,” replied the Lord, “If you don’t, what’s inside here will come out in a way that you don’t want. It will seek to destroy you.”

When I woke up and processed these words, I pictured that trunk, buried in the depths of my soul. A place that I hid all the ugly stuff I didn’t want anyone to know about. Stuff I was scared of, ashamed of, and wanted control over.

When the Lord gave me that second dream about the captives, I knew He meant me. I was held captive to fear, shame, and control. I thought I had neatly and completely buried those dirty rags in that locked trunk at the bottom of my soul and covered up the lid with fresh soil. I didn’t bother it; it didn’t bother me. Until one day, my love of an Anne of Green Gables love story, mixed with my fear of the whatifs and my shame of the what-i-have-dones, overwhelmed me—and I was captured.

I didn’t realize the power of what lived (lurked, rather) deep in my soul. Thankfully, God did, and He wouldn’t let me stay blinded any longer. I learned about His true grace—His unending supply for my unending need. I needed some of this underserved grace. I was used to thinking I deserved it. And I wanted desperately to be set free.

***
It began that January, with those two dreams. On a cold afternoon walk, with some of last autumn’s leaves still clinging to the roadsides, I knew He was about to do something—and I was afraid of it.

The words “Come as you are” washed over me as a car passed me, stirring up the leaves as it drove by. I thought of the changing seasons and how that parallels to so much of life. What if the trees stubbornly resisted the impending dropping of leaves? Or what if they decided they would not grow new ones this year because they love the winter too much? Sometimes, honestly, that’s how I feel. I don’t want to grow. It’s hard. I don’t want to change seasons, for that requires changing out clothes, and I just got used to everything. Why can’t things just stay the way they are?

But if the leaves don’t drop from the branches in fall, the tree would die in winter for lack of food. If no bud appears in spring, that tree is future firewood. Change is ordained by God and good for us, that we may grow and thrive.

There are many seasons in life: Times when our leaves are brightly colored, but falling quickly. Times when our branches are bare and cold, yet surviving the winter months. And then there are times we experience the first buds of spring with the hope of many green days ahead.

This was a year filled with bare branches, yet that’s how I survived the cold winter months. Winter went on longer than I hoped. As spring approached and the first buds of new leaves appeared, God laid on my heart the desire to capture this bleak year on paper. I hope you see His sovereignty and redemption weaved all throughout the words and stories. I hope, by the end, you have a closer relationship with the One who loves you and gave His life for you.


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NO MORE SECRETS FINAL WEDITS

More Scenes Behind the Book

First featured on Maggie’s Blog

  1. Where did you find the courage to share such a vulnerable book? Are you afraid you’ve shared too much?

I’m smiling as I write out the answer to this question because I recently watched The Wizard of Oz with my kids. I thought about the launching of this book as the lion asked the “wizard” for courage. The wizard didn’t really give him courage. He may have encouraged him a little, but the journey to Oz is how and where the lion found his courage. Facing the Great and Terrible Oz almost sent him running back home, but he stood there, knees shaking, tears streaming, and asked for courage.

That’s about how I feel. I’ve struggled with fear for so long, but through the process of writing this book and now publishing it, I’m finding the courage to do what I feel God has called me to do. My original version actually wasn’t this vulnerable. My editor continually said, “This is specific, yet vague. Can you give us any more details?” So I don’t think the story would hold the same power if I shared any less.

Some may say I have shared too much. And yes I can be afraid of the criticism I may get for my vulnerability, but I know that I am not alone in this struggle. We are all tempted and this book uncovers how the enemy seeks to destroy us through those temptations. I pray this book spurs others on to talk about and deal with similar struggles.

In the end, it’s not really about me and what I’ve done or not done. It’s about the power of God that can set us free from those things that seek to ensnare us and make us ineffective and unproductive Christians.

2.  In taking your sins from the shadows to the light, what has been the greatest benefit? Were there obstacles that you had to overcome in the process?

Honestly, this process has been like meeting Jesus for the first time. I asked Jesus to come into my heart with my mom at age three. I told her I wanted “her Jesus to come into my heart,” a decision I’m glad I made, and one I never really strayed from. However, I don’t remember the day of my conversion, and I don’t remember what I was like before He saved me. I also never knew what He saved me from. How do I have an “old self” when I became a Christian at three years old?

So the greatest benefit for me during this year that I talk about in my book, has been rediscovering true Grace. Undeserved Grace. I was used to thinking I deserved God’s favor because I followed all the rules.

God did what I couldn’t do. He set me free from my fears and the shame of my past, and gave me grace and mercy that I don’t deserve. I have never experienced joy like I did at that realization. Jesus took take my place on that cross. All my sins, shame, and old self were nailed there with Him and because He conquered death, they have no hold on me anymore. I am a new creation. When that became personal to me, I felt a new kind of joy that I’ve never felt before!

Biggest obstacles? My mind. At one point, I felt released from the struggles I share about in the book. But my mind does not have compartments. I continually think about things, and roll them over and over in my head. That’s how this book was written. But eventually, I had to stop. There were no more lessons on this topic. Yes, I need to continually take my thoughts captive, but eventually, I have to shut the door, and say I’m not thinking about this anymore. That’s probably been the hardest thing.

3.  How did you balance writing and taking care of your home and family?

Not very well. I never wrote this book because I had time to write. I wrote it because the words came so fast and strong, I had to. I felt I would burst open if I didn’t write it all down.

I’ve never been good at balancing things well, for I am an all or nothing kind of person. When I was writing, I was ALL there. During the editing phase of this process, my grandfather was taken to the hospital by ambulance and life for me changed in one-hundred different ways. I took my laptop with me when I stayed with him overnight at the hospital.

Other days, I stayed up late, pounding on the keyboard in the living room while the rest of the house was quiet. On the nights I couldn’t stay up late, I woke up early and carved a little more on this story.

It was an all-consuming process, but I tried to take it in chunks. I worked on it for several weeks, and then handed it back to my editor. When she had it, I could stop thinking about it for a couple weeks and pay some attention to my family again.

One time my husband said, “OK, you are DONE working on this for awhile. I need you back here!”

As a result, I felt like this book was squeezed out of me. None of it was done in my own strength.

4. Do you have plans for other books in the future?

Yes I do! I have several actually. God has worked so powerfully in my life, I want to tell all His stories and hopefully in the process encourage others to a more intimate walk with Him. But more on those later, when I have more specific details.

Order your copy at Amazon!


Other Interviews

life in round room

Leanne , who I met through a blogging course, also invited me into her blog space and had a few questions ready for me – 20 – to be exact! Here they are…

L: You wrote a book… with pages, chapters, front and back covers. I mean this thing has a copyright page; it’s legit! How does it feel to say “I wrote a book.”?

J: You know, writing a book is something I’ve dreamed of for years. I’ve imagined how I would feel to actually be an author. I am stoked and honored about releasing this book and sharing this journey.

L: What does your writing space look like?

J: My writing space looks like my bedroom. It’s a secluded space, two closable doors away from the chaos of my living room, so it’s quiet. I can sit on the couch with my laptop or pen and paper (which is how I start every first draft) and write.

L;  Okay, let’s pretend we’re at the park with our kids and my youngest comes up to us all, “Mama, I’m hungry and hoooot.  Can we go now?”  I tell her we’ll leave in two minutes—which is exactly the amount of time you have to tell me what your book is about before my kid melts down. Go.

J: Ok, so I became a Christian at three years old and always grew up in church. I never really had a dark period where I turned away from my faith, but I never really knew the Julie before Jesus. I mean, what exactly did He save me from? Did I have an “old self” at three years old? And why do I still struggle with sin? As I look back over my life, the stupid and sinful things I’ve done, I didn’t do before Jesus. I did them knowing Jesus.

Well, a few years ago, some friends of ours got tangled up in an affair. I never saw it coming and it really rocked me. I realized that if they could fall, so could I. So I began to pray that God would show me areas in my life that needed to be dealt with so I didn’t fall into the same trap.

I found out God answers those prayers! He showed me alright. He unearthed my buried secrets, you know, the ones I didn’t want anyone to see, and He asked me to deal with them. In the end, He showed me His true, undeserving grace and my desperate need of it!

L:  What’s your favorite zoo animal and why?

J: I think meerkats have to be my favorite. They are so cute, seem to have big personalities and I love how there’s always someone on the lookout for predators.

L: Fill in the blank: “If you are someone who___________________, then you should totally read my book.”

J: Works in ministry

L: If you had a whole day to yourself and unlimited funds, what would you do with your day?

J: I would drop off my kids at a friend’s house, and jump in the truck with my husband for a day in town. We would eat lunch at Babe’s Chicken, go for a walk at the walking trail, then go see an action/suspense movie in the theater. By then we’ll be hungry again and will sit down at Cheesecake Factory where we’ll order some appetizers for dinner and Oreo Dream cheesecake for dessert.  Then it’s time to drive back home.

L: What scares you the most about people reading your story?

J: I hope people don’t read the first four chapters, judge me for sharing, and not read the rest of the story where God showed up and taught me His grace. Also, I can be nervous that the people who know me will think differently about me, now that they see what I’ve struggled with or they’ll try to figure out who the different people are that I refer to in the story.

L:  If you could have coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

J: Even though I don’t drink coffee (please don’t hit the screen!) I would have to say Beth Moore. I did several studies of hers when I was newly married and eager to know God more. I have always wanted to tell her how much her Bible studies meant to me. I actually had a dream that this book paved the way for me to be able to do that. I don’t know that that will happen, but it made me smile!

L: What was the hardest part about writing your story?

J: Chapters 2-5 were extremely hard to write and even harder to edit. My first draft wasn’t nearly as vulnerable, but my editor repeatedly said, “This is specific, yet vague. Can you expound anymore on this?” In my mind I thought, “No!! Being more specific means I have to tell the wholestory and I’d rather hide behind all I learned rather than share that!”

After I prayed about it, I felt led to share the whole story. So I went back and included the specifics about how I struggled and was tempted to think about a man other than my husband. I included the specifics of my past that can haunt me, and the shame that rose up inside me. I didn’t add those details to air out all my dirty laundry for all to see, but to point to what Christ has saved me from.  When Hebrews 12:2 says, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand throne of God,” it means that because Jesus went through with the Cross, I don’t have to carry my shame around anymore. It died with Christ and now I am a new creation.

So my hope is that being specific connects my journey with others better than if I was vague and you were left to guess what I was talking about. If my journey can help one other person, it’s worth it.

L: Do you believe in Big Foot? What about mermaids?

J: No. Only in the movies.

L:  What’s the best part of your book?

J: Of course…all the juicy details! No, seriously, my favorite part is chapter 6. After I’ve taken everything out of my trunk, and dealt with my fear issues, I begin to seek a faith void of fear. In this chapter, I describe my relationship with my grandparents while I was growing up. It was such a special one! As a kid, when I walked through their door, I became the most important person in the world to them. They were never too busy or tired to spend time with me. But 25 years have past since then and my grandmother has gone to be with the Lord and my grandfather has advanced dementia. I discovered so much of my identity as a person was wrapped up in them. So as their influence in my life faded away, I felt this void in my heart, like I didn’t even know who I was without them. One day on a hike with my husband, I felt the Lord ask me to let Him fill that void now. Talk about a tough hike!

Also in that chapter is the story of our trip to Kenya and how God used a heron on the Indian Ocean to teach me that He sees me, and knows when I sit and when I stand. Oh, it’s my favorite chapter!

L:  No More Secrets sounds really juicy. How did you come up with that title?

J: It actually just hit me one evening while I was blow drying my hair. The original title was Out of the Shadows and into the Light, but that just didn’t have the zing I wanted. No More Secrets will grab your attention!

L: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

J: I’d have to say squirrel-n-dumplings my oldest cooked up. It’s one of those things I never knew I’d do as a mom!

L:  Was there anything unexpected that happened in the process of writing, editing, or creating the book?

J: I think the whole journey was unexpected! I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I never envisioned this topic would be my debut!

L: How do you feel about breakfast for dinner?

J: Hang on while I clean up the bowls of oatmeal on the table from dinner….! Breakfast for dinner is a regular at our house because I love breakfast food, but I’m not a morning person. It’s really hard for me to cook a big breakfast first thing, so I like to serve it for dinner, that way I’m not grumpy when I cook.

L:  What’s the one thing you want people to take away from your story?

J: As long as we walk this earth, we’re going to be tempted. Often this temptation comes in the form of what we thought we could never do. Temptation itself is not sin, but temptation is not something to take lightly or think we are strong enough to handle. It wants to destroy us!

I love my husband’s illustration I share in the book about living life in a round room. A round room has no corners. Everything must be brought to the center and dealt with. It’s much easier to handle difficult issues when we know exactly what we’re dealing with.

This topic isn’t talked about much in the Christian community, especially when it comes to thinking too much about the opposite sex. That’s almost taboo. My prayer is that we can find the courage to talk about these issues and get them in the light. I see affairs affecting more and more families and it all starts in the mind. We have to figure out how to handle our thoughts and the temptations Satan sets for us, otherwise they turn into sin and eventually death.

L:  Which do you fancy: paper and ink books or books on Nooks?

J: That depends. I love the feel of paper-back books and actually turning the pages. But, I like to read on my Kindle at night and load books on there when I travel.

L: If you were to have a red-carpet Hollywood book release party, who would you invite?

J: The cast from Anne of Green Gables.

L:  What else do you want people to know about you or your book?

J: I didn’t write this book to prove some point or be famous or make some top 10 list. I truly wrote this book because I felt God asked me to share my story. So I pray that this story can help someone realize a temptation they are facing and be able to overcome it with the victory of Christ.

L:  If God said he would oblige to answer only one question for you, what would you ask Him?

J: For there to be brownies and ice cream in Heaven!


faith void of fear

Finally, my friend Tiffany who I met at the Allume writers conference invited me out with a couple questions…

T: How did God lead you in to compiling your experiences in to a book?

J: Writing is how I process. So during this year of intense struggle, I filled my journal with thoughts, prayers and examples of all God taught me through His Word. I started blogging again and shared some of my journey there. One day I was sitting at the computer and I heard the Lord say, Ok, I want you to compile it all. I thought about it for weeks, and I couldn’t shake the sense that I was to turn this journey into a book.

I didn’t know if compiling it was for my continued processing and healing or if it would one day be a published book. So I just kept taking the next step. When I finished compiling everything I had written during that year, and read over it all several times, I put it away for a few months, continuing to pray for God’s guidance.

One day the next step was clear: find an editor. I found a writers’ group nearby, and so decided to check it out. My first time there, I hoped to just observe, but quickly found out I was the only one with material to read. Before I started reading, I told the leader, “I feel like God is asking me to make this a book.  So I want you to tell me if you think it has that potential.” When I finished reading the first chapter, she confirmed, yes, this could definitely be a book.

On the way home, I was unable to contain the tears from spilling down my cheek, totally overwhelmed at what God had put in front of me. The publishing process itself made me want to quit so I tried complaining to God about how I can’t do this. After I finished whining, I remember Him saying, But do you trust me? I decided then, my job was to write and what happened after that was up to Him.

Now here we are. He provided a wonderful editor that challenged me and pushed me to be more specific about my struggles. He carved out time for me to focus on finishing this project and I look forward to seeing what He does with these words.

T : “We think our church friends only want to hear the good stuff. We think we need to be strong for them and not let them see us hurting. Now we don’t have to wallow in self-pity, but we can be real. We must be real. We all need a place to share our brokenness, our temptations, and ask for prayer and help to overcome.: (excerpt from the book) How has letting go of your fears and shame changed your friendships and yourself as a friend?

J: It’s funny you ask about friends. Circumstances in my life have changed so much over the last year that it’s actually been a lonely time for me. That plus all the time behind the computer it takes to write a book, I feel like my personal friendships have suffered.

I will say that the year I wrote this book, I identified fear of man as a big stronghold in my life. I care about what people think of me and I hate it when my actions negatively affect someone else.  

Sometimes even our obedience can do that. The Proverb says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We sharpen each other while we walk out what we sense God asking us to do. God had to break this fear of man in me so I will look to His approval over the approval of my friends.  This has hurt a few friendships lately and been very difficult.

T: “I just have to trust Him. Words that are so much easier to write than actually live out each day. To just keep walking when the road ends takes faith.” (another excerpt) What does trusting God look like practically in your life now and how has that changed since you were younger?

J: I would say earlier in my walk with God I had a set of expectations of how, when, and where I wanted God to answer my prayers. I expected Him to do certain things and when He didn’t, I grew frustrated.

I’ve learned to turn my expectations into expectancy. He hears my prayers and wants to answer me. He just may not do it like I want, when I want. Expectancy knows He will answer, and is eagerly on the lookout for how that will play out.

T: How have you grown since writing the book?

J: Oh goodness, I’ve grown leaps and bounds in this whole process. Dealing with fear is an on going process for me, rather than a once-and-for-all done deal. It seems to come in waves, but I’m getting quicker at recognizing fear’s footprints and dealing with it before it paralyzes me.

T: What is your biggest take away for readers? 

J: As long as we walk this earth, we’re going to be tempted. Often this temptation comes in the form of what we thought we could never do. Temptation itself is not sin, but temptation is not something to take lightly or think we are strong enough to handle. It wants to destroy us!

I love my husband’s illustration I share in the book about living life in a round room. A round room has no corners. Everything must be brought to the center and dealt with. It’s much easier to handle difficult issues when we know exactly what we’re dealing with.

This topic isn’t talked about much in the Christian community, especially when it comes to thinking too much about the opposite sex. That’s almost taboo. My prayer is that we can find the courage to talk about these issues and get them in the light. I see affairs affecting more and more families and it all starts in the mind. We have to figure out how to handle our thoughts and the temptations Satan sets for us, otherwise they turn into sin and eventually death.


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