CBP: Share with us your Christian testimony…
Grace: I grew up in a strict Christian home—if the church door was open, our family was there. I accepted Christ as my Savior when, at the age of eight, I heard my older sister describe heaven as she imagined it would be. It sounded so good that I wanted a piece of the action!
I’ll always remember kneeling beside the couch with my mom that evening. She led me through a simple prayer in which I admitted that I was a sinner deserving of a death penalty. I asked God to forgive me and thanked Him for sending Jesus, His Son, to take my death penalty when He died on the cross. I thanked Him that Jesus rose from the dead three days later and in doing so, purchased a place in heaven for me. By placing my faith in Jesus for salvation, I received the promise of eternal life. Wow—what a great reason to celebrate!
I’d love to say that my life progressed happy ever after. Unfortunately, I experienced a few spiritual growing pains that came from testing my parents’ authority during high school and making unwise choices in dating relationships. A broken engagement during college refocused my affections on Jesus and made me determined to be a woman after God’s heart. I’m so thankful that He’s honored that decision. He’s healed past wounds, continually teaches me how to live a life that pleases Him, and disciplines me when I deserve it.
God has given me some unique opportunities in life, and each one has taught me more about who He is. For instance, my husband and I spent nearly three years living in a Nepali village. In the midst of major culture shock and isolation, I experienced God’s faithfulness. When our second child was born with hydrocephalus, I experienced God as a miracle-worker and a provider. When He led us into full-time Christian camping ministry, I experienced Him as our strength. And as an author, I experience Him as my creativity and wisdom.
CBP: Your book’s title, 10-Minute Time Outs for Busy Women, sounds like something every woman could use! What type of time outs do you suggest busy women take?
Grace: I certainly encourage them to take physical time outs—relaxing over a cup of tea, chatting with a friend, going for a walk. But in this context, the time outs are spiritual in nature. We need to make time for what matters most—our relationship with Jesus—and this book is a great resource to make that time profitable.
CBP: How does this book differ from other devotional books on the market?
Grace: Two differences, I believe. First, its easy-to-follow format. Each of the 68 devotionals begins with the “Upward Gaze”—a Scripture-based praise prayer. That’s followed by a homespun story, two application questions (“Inward Glimpse”), a Scripture-based supplication prayer (“Outward Glance”) and another verse that ties in with the day’s theme (“One More Peek”).
Second, its content. One reviewer says that as a woman with no time for fluffy feel-good devotionals, she appreciates its unusual balance of depth and lucidity.
CBP: What’s the value of praying Scripture? How have you seen it work in your own prayer life?
Grace: God has revealed His thoughts to us through Scripture, His living word. When we pray Scripture, we’re choosing to think His thoughts rather than our own. Doing so changes our priorities and perspective. It helps us understand His heartbeat for people. It expands our limited vision regarding His purposes and how He wants to, and can, accomplish them.
Praying Scripture has broadened my understanding of what God wants to do through my children. For instance, I’ve prayed Psalm 67:1,2 on their behalf: “God be gracious to them and bless them, and cause His face to shine upon them—that Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations.” As a mother, I naturally want my children be healthy, to succeed in college, and to marry godly spouses. I pray for God’s blessing on their lives every day in that regard. But now I understand that His blessing and grace on their lives includes more than the eye can see. It includes God’s eternal purpose for saving people, for bringing the lost into His kingdom. And God has answered by giving my kids a heart to be involved in discipleship and missions.
CBP: You faced a difficult challenge when your second child was born. Tell us about that and how your relationship with God helped you through it.
Grace: Our second child, Stephanie, was born with massive hydrocephalus while we were living in Nepal. She needed a shunt inserted into her head to save her life. Trouble was, the first flight back to the States didn’t have enough seats for our family, and the international airline refused to let me aboard because I’d had a Caesearean delivery and was considered high risk. That left my husband responsible for taking our three-day-old critically ill daughter back to Seattle.
I was forced to say goodbye to Stephanie, not knowing whether or not I would see her alive again. A few hours after my husband left, I cried out to God, “What are You doing? I don’t understand why this is happening. We wanted to stay here and serve the Nepalese people for the rest of our lives, and now this. And what about Stephanie? Why have You allowed this tiny baby to be born with such huge medical issues? What are You doing?”
Into that tsunami of my life came the lyrics to the familiar hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Peace and quiet replaced my fear as the words reminded me that God is faithful, no matter what.
Stephanie has since had 11 surgeries and meningitis. Without a relationship with God, I don’t know how I would have coped during those uncertain days.
CBP: In what other real-life challenges have you found your relationship with God to be your strength?
Grace: I experienced God as my strength when my dad suffered two crippling strokes within three weeks. He continues to be my strength five years later, as Dad’s future looks uncertain.
I also experienced God as my strength when Matt, our 18-year-old son, left home for a two-year overseas missions commitment shortly after 9/11. Watching him cross the airport tarmac and board a plane without looking back made my heart literally ache. The two years evolved into three before he returned home, and I often relied on God’s strength to see me through the days with no communication as Matt traveled from country to country.
Stephanie now attends college nearly 1,000 miles from home—I need God’s strength to trust that He’ll look after her, especially as she still requires a shunt. We’ll have three kids in college in the fall—I need God’s strength not to worry about finances. The list goes on and on…..!
CBP: You refer to Mary, the woman who sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him speak when He visited her family’s home. What’s significant about this scene?
Grace: The study in contrast, and Jesus’ response. Imagine the scene—two sisters, two approaches to life. Which one did Jesus commend? The one that sat in His presence. There was nothing inherently wrong with Martha’s behavior, but her preparations took priority over Jesus, her guest. Hmmm…I wonder how often we let ministry itself take priority over the One for whom we’re performing the ministry.
CBP: But in real life we have to meet practical needs, like Mary’s sister Martha did. How can we sit at Jesus’ feet on those days when we’re running from one meeting to the next or tending to fussy babies or dealing with our boss’s demands at work?
Grace: Wouldn’t it be great if we could literally sit and bask in Jesus’ presence for hours on end? Ah, bliss. But reality says that’s impossible. Some women work outside their homes; all work full-time in their homes! Families need meals prepared and laundry washed. Bathrooms need scrubbing. The dog needs to be walked. Our teens need our time.
So….with all that happening in real life, how can we sit at Jesus’ feet? By learning to practice His presence moment by moment. No matter what we’re doing, we can enjoy His presence as we continually bring our thoughts back to Him, as we carry on a running conversation with Him, as we discipline our minds to be aware of His presence and friendship.
CBP: How did writing this book impact your own life?
Grace: I began understanding the principle of abiding in Christ (John 15). As I wrote this book, the Lord kept reminding me that I’m fruitful only as I abide in Him, as I make my relationship with Him the top priority. He’s not interested in how many books I write and sell in the name of ministry—He wants my affection, and from the depth of that relationship comes fruitful ministry. Also, from that relationship flows the strength to face whatever life brings.
CBP: How have you made time for what matters most and what results have you seen?
Grace: My days are so busy that if I want to spend quiet time in God’s presence, I have to get up early….like 5:15 or so. That’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. There are no distractions. No phones ringing. No people coming and going. Just quiet time alone with God, His Word, and my journal, to record what He’s teaching me.
What results have I seen? An increased desire for a more intimate relationship with Him. A greater awareness of God’s holiness and my unworthiness. Greater fruitfulness—when I speak to women’s groups, I’m seeing more women come to know the Lord or recommit their lives to making Him their focus.
CBP: If you could give one piece of advice to busy women, what would it be and why?
Grace: Make time for what matters most! It’s our relationship with Jesus that counts….not how clean our houses are kept, or how well behaved our children are, or what size dress we wear….it’s Jesus. When that relationship is vibrant and growing, our lives will be fruitful, not frazzled.