CBP: Your book includes stories from many well-known Christian women such as Laura Bush, Twila Paris, Stormie Omartian, Point of Grace and several others. How were you able to get them involved with this project?
Karen: Each of these busy women graciously agreed to an interview or allowed me to use material they had already developed because of one unique aspect of the book. The royalties from Seasons of Life go to fund ministry outreaches in China, a place very dear to my husband, Kevin, and I. We lived and worked in China for seven years and saw the desperate need for Christ in that nation. The book was birthed out of our desire to increase ministry endeavors there.
CBP: You have divided your book into four sections depicting spring, summer, autumn and winter, but itís not just about age. Can you describe these sections for our readers?
Karen: As I interviewed women to write their stories in the book some of the older women would jokingly remark, "Well, I guess my story is going to be in the winter section of the book!" And I would always surprise them when I told them it would not.
The first three sections of the book, spring, summer and winter depict the natural aging process in a woman's life. The book begins with the stories of young singles and graduates to career, newlywed, young mother, mother of teens, older single, senior, grandparenting sunset years, etc. They are stories that cut to the emotions of both laughter and tears sharing real life drama such as how to juggle a career and motherhood, who is this stranger in my house?--My teen!, the lifechanging role of a grandparent, how the sunset years can be the most productive years of your life, etc.
However, the winter section of the book focuses on challenges we face in life that are often beyond our control. This section includes overcoming stories in the areas of illness, infertility, divorce and loss of a loved one.
CBP: Tell me about the Winter section of the book. Why would anyone want to read about these painful events?
Karen: When people think of winter they often think of cold and of death. The leaves fall to the ground and die, flowers die, the earth is brown and barren. But winter always gives birth to renewal--spring. Everyone has faced some challenge in their life which has been a "death experience." Whether that was the death of a dream, of a marriage, of a loved one, etc, we all face trials because we live in a fallen world. What we need to remember is John 12:24 which says, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and die, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds."
The very thing that takes us into a winter season in our lives can be the very situation, as we give it to Christ and die to ourselves, that God can use to bring rebirth and renewal when we allow His healing process to fill our hearts. The stories in this section share not only the challenge of the season, but more importantly the victory beyond the challenge as these women kept their eyes on God in the midst of the storm.
CBP: Each of the seventeen chapters focuses on a different season in life. What are some of your favorite seasons that you highlight in the book?
Karen: I am living in the years as a mother with young children and yet I also work part-time in the ministry and am a writer. So my biggest challenge in this season of my life is how to juggle these demanding roles effectively. Some days I feel like things have gone well, but more often than not I struggle with the feeling that some area is suffering. I feel fortunate that I do have the opportunity to work from home, but that in itself brings all sorts of additional challenges. Let's just say I'll never run out of stories to write as long as my kids are around. I share this struggle in the story, "Don't All Mothers Wear Earplugs."
CBP: There is a unique segment at the end of each chapter featuring women in the Bible who have lived through that particular season of life. Tell us about that...
Karen: It probably shouldn't surprise us that God provided an example in the Bible of women in every season of life imagineable. While writing, I had the idea to include the stories of women in the Bible in the many seasons of life. But as I began to research I thought to myself, No way will I be able to locate an example for every single season, especially regarding grandparents. But interestingly, I found not just one but two incredible contrasting examples of grandparents in the Bible. Timothy's faithful grandmother, Lois, who helped nurture him into a dynamic leader compared to Athaliah the mother of the wicked King Ahaziah. She was a grandmother that in order to fulfill her own selfish desire to be queen killed her grandchildren! No matter what season of life you find yourself, the Bible provides a glimpse into the lives of godly women who have already walked that road.
CBP: You write the stories in this book from interviews, but several of the stories are your own, correct? What got you started writing this book?
Karen: A knock at my door one day caused me to cringe. My living room was covered with toys and pillows from where my three children had been at play. I remembering wondering as I walked to the door if I would ever again experience a clean house or time of my own. A dear friend was at the door and sensing my frustration shared, "Karen, it is only a season." That phrase continued in my heart for months as the idea for the book formed. I think every woman struggles with the season she is in at some time or other as we all tend to think the grass is greener on the other side.
CBP: You wrote this book to help raise funds and awareness for mission work in Asia, as you and your husband actually lived in China for several years. And yet, because it is a Communist country, the presentation of the Gospel has been restricted in the past. What is happening now?
Karen: My husband and I continue to take teams into China on a large scale basis and while I can't share detailed accounts of what we are doing I can share that there is amazing revival and openness happening in the coutry. China is truly a paradox. We are seeing greater freedoms in some areas to share the Gospel while at the same time the house church movement and Chinese believers are experiencing more persecution than ever before. Approximately 23,000 people die in China each day, most having never heard the Gospel.