Friday, April 15, 2011

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with Shawna K. Williams

On 7/9/10 I interviewed, Shawna K. Williams, for my Lets Chat weekly special. Today I would like to revisit that chat. Sometimes I love going back and sharing once more all the lessons of life these amazing ladies share. Through them I have witnessed the Lord at work. These ladies stand out and make a difference every day. They challenge us to be more. To be all Christ has called us to be. I pray there is something here today that you need to hear. Maybe just a simple message of, "your not alone."  

I would like to welcome Shawna K. Williams to the Nest today. It is an honor to get to chat with her today. I asked Shawna the very same fourteen questions I ask everyone and again I am blessed beyond words. Shawna is gem of a woman who has a deep heart for the Lord. She is talented not only writing, but designs beautiful jewelery. I just happen to have one of her amazing bracelets and wear it everyday.I have told her I just need a whole collection of them! Shawna has also written a book entitled, "No Other", and it is one you need for your summer reading list. So, lets get on with our chat.

(Robin) Shawna, tell me a little about yourself.
(Shawna) I'm fairly ordinary. Just a mom of three kids, and a wife for nearly nineteen years. My family lives on a ranch in the little town of Mena Arkansas, and we raise the whole gamut of farm animals. I guess you could say that I'm a city girl turned country, but really, I think I've always been small town at heart. It's hard to beat the ambiance of the town fair, Christmas parade, and 4th of July fireworks show in a little town.
I love God, old houses, dogs, hiking through the woods and rock hounding. Nothing captures my inquisitive nature quite like an abandoned house, or dark cave -- just give me a flashlight. And I'm also a bit of a science and history geek, namely geology, ancient history and WWII.

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Shawna) If you don't mind Robin, I'd like to answer this question and the next one, about the 'aha' moment as one.
One of my biggest struggles in my faith came shortly after a friend committed suicide. That leaves one with a lot of questions. A whole lot to wrestle with! She was a precious person, who was there for everyone else, but kept a lot about herself hidden – mostly, I believe, because she didn't feel safe in disclosing it. There was one statement she made at church one Wednesday night, when she said, "I can't talk about myself." She said it very calm. And none of us realized exactly what she meant. In fact, someone responded with, "That's okay. You don't have to." And that's not bad advice, it just wasn't what our friend needed. She was looking for a safe, loving place to share her burdens. And we didn't give her that.
After she passed away, we all second guessed everything – little comments, expressions. I kept remembering this one time, when I heard my son laugh, and I turned around to see my friend holding his hands and letting him climb up her knees to flip. She looked at me and smiled, and for an instant the thought, "Is that Lenora?" raced through my head. Her smile wasn't quite right. I still think about that a lot.
There was much speculation, afterwards, about what happens to a person when they commit suicide. It actually makes me a little mad to remember. I know we were all hurting and wondering how this could happen. But I remember specifically, in one particularly ugly debate, hearing the word, "No," in my head, almost like a hammer to a podium. "That one moment did not take away who Lenora was." I completely believe that. Maybe Satan had a victory in that single instant, but he's not the Victor. My friend was sick. She had, in fact, been diagnosed with clinical depression, but very few people knew. If I'm to believe that Christ died for past present and future sins, then His sacrifice is enough. There's no addendum to it that says, "except for suicide." That was a real eye-opener to me about the scope of Grace, and a huge comfort. I know who my friend was, a warm and caring person, with a heart for God. And I know where she is -- with Him in Heaven.
Several months later I was attending a Beth Moore study, and this will forever be one of the most precious times in my life. The young woman leading it was a cancer survivor at the age of thirty. She had such a joy for life and the Lord. For some reason, I kept wondering what five years meant to her. Five years -- an amount of time most of us take for granted, but to her it was everything.
I felt compelled to be around this woman and learn from her. Her name was Michelle. I remember after one study, we were talking, and I expressed how I never felt worthy of God's love. She asked me point blank if I grew up in a legalistic church. Her question jarred me because I had never pinpointed some of the teachings that disregarded Grace as the source behind my feelings of unworthiness. I just thought my feelings were the result of failure on my part. I often wonder if Lenora felt something similar. And I suspect that many Christians struggle with this.
I remember praying by myself a few nights later, doing my usual, "sorry I'm such a good-for- nothin'..." mantra, and it just hit me. This was not what Christ intended for me, to dwell in a continual state of guilt. He wants me to rejoice in the freedom He gave me through Grace. He died because I was worth it, to Him.
I obey because I love Him, and I rejoice because He set me free.

(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Shawna) I have several verses that I think of often. Actually, one of them I derived the title for my next book from. And all three play heavy parts in my first two books, No Other, and In All Things. I couldn't help it.
Romans 8: 28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
And Ecclesiastes 7:8
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
And I love this from Psalms 40 verses 1 through 3
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Shawna) There are different things about different people that make them special, and in that way I don't really look for anything in a close friend. Those friendships just sort of happen. I can say that wisdom is something that draws me to people.
The wisest people I've met in life don't worry. They seem to always grasp the bigger picture, and usually when I'm rattling off about some little thing they make a simple statement, much broader in perspective, and it's like, "Oh yeah... Never thought of it like that." It almost gives me a small sense of what it must have felt like when Christ calmed the waters. Everything just becomes so clear and peaceful. That's a real gift that God has blessed some individuals with, and coming from a wiry person like me, who feels the need to push and pull, twist, stretch, wad up and ram pretty much every situation in life, I appreciate you guys!
As to the second part of that question, I guess I hope my friends see someone who is genuine, and caring. That's what I want to be.

(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Shawna) I love Francine Rivers, and I never miss an opportunity to say so. Redeeming Love is a life changing book, and if I could only recommend one book of hers, that would be it. However, my absolute favorites are the three books in The Mark of the Lion Trilogy. A friend turned me onto these at a low point, and they were a wonderful encouragement, and entertaining to boot!

(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Shawna) Look out the window. We live in a beautiful place. There's a mountain out our front door.

(Robin) What is one thing about yourself you admire?
(Shawna) Hmm...? Do I have to answer this one? I'm mostly just good at telling stories about the stupid stuff I've done. A 'what not to do' sort of manual.
I guess maybe this. I like to be productive. It's so easy for people to sit back and say I wish things were this way or that, and to me that seems like a waste. If you wish things were different, then take stock of your abilities and resources, pray about it, and then see what you can do. If it's something so big it seems overwhelming, start with small goals. If it's something you have little control over, do what you can and learn to be content with the outcome, and always, always, recognize the small blessings.

(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Shawna) My family. I am so blessed. I can't even express how much. Next would be my critters. There's nothing like a loyal doggy. They're totally devoted and will forgive you of anything. Cats are also great. And let me say, goats are awesome. I don't know why there aren't more pet goats! Think about it, city folks! You'll never have to mow your lawn. Pigmy goats don't get very big, and they're hilariously playful. Miniature horses are pretty special too.
What I find to be the coziest setting to surround myself with is an old house in the woods, with a loving family, pets, a fireplace, a good book and a cup of hot cocoa. In other words, home.

(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Shawna) You ask intense questions! I have to say my love for the Lord, because that's a part of me. I can't separate it from who I am. And my family. Same thing. I'm a wife and a mom, and these are the people I think about continually. They're a part of me.
Of course, writing is a huge passion. Huge! No way to explain that either, other than it gives me great joy. I love animals. I had to take a break while writing this to play with kittens.
Hmm, I was about to write about how interesting geology and history are to me, but this is all sounding very familiar. I could probably just repeat my answers to the first question, to tell about myself, and the one before this about my deepest passions.
Hey! That's actually kind of cool that these things match up.

(Robin)What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Shawna) It came from one of those wise friends. It was specifically directed toward some concerns I had in raising my children -- whether or not I was teaching them everything they needed -- and her response was, "To have faith in God's purpose." I've thought about that a lot, and usually somewhere in the process this verse in Proverbs comes to mind. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Of course, then I usually launch into a philosophical debate, with myself, over the meaning of the term "success", but still there's great comfort in that promise.
And, I noticed that you ask me later how I define success. I'll stick with a general answer, because if I launch into a contemplation of its many possible meanings we'll still be here next week.

(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Shawna) To be like my grandmother. She's an amazing woman who has accomplished great things in her life and for her family through her faith. She is the woman in Proverbs 31.

(Robin) What are you currently working on?
(Shawna) I'm just finishing up the sequel to No Other, which is called, In All Things. I'm also working on a novella that releases shortly after that. It's based on a short story I wrote, which was inspired by my granddad's experience, growing up as an orphan during the depression. It's near and dear to my heart.

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Shawna) Hehe... Lots of ways! But... I'll for the sake of brevity here's a general answer that's in line with my desire to be productive:
Setting goals and achieving them.
In life terms though, success is loving others and being loved in return. God gives us a huge boost in that area. And again I think of my grandmother, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. I don't know that she's accomplished every goal that she ever set for herself, but there's no denying that she radiates with the love that grown within her and from her.

Wow, I feel as though I just got to peek into the window of your heart Shawna. What passion you have for life and those around you! You are a gem. One that stands out and shines like no other. Thank you Shawna for stopping by the Nest and sharing such inspiration with us. I am speechless and feel as though an overwhelming blessing has just washed over me. You carry such wisdom and honesty. You have filled me with answers I have been searching for this week. The Lord always knows just what we need when we need it. Blessings to you sweet lady, and may the Lord continue to use you for His glory, bringing life to others through inspiration and joy in our hearts through your writing. If you haven't picked up, "No Other" yet, it is a must read. I cannot wait for the release of "In All Things".

If you would like to connect with Shawna or her blog and find out all she is doing just follow these links:
Shawna K. Williams - Grace-Inspired Fiction
No Other, May, 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing
In All Things, Nov., 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing
Orphaned Hearts, Dec., 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing


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