One of the fun parts of having a blog is getting to know people in a ‘deeper’ way. Today, please enjoy this Q&A session with best-selling author Keri Wyatt Kent, whose latest book is entitled ‘Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus.’
Q: Where did you get the idea to write ‘Deeply Loved’?
I speak and lead retreats fairly often. Though I go as a “speaker,” I also try to be there as a “listener.” And I have noticed a recurring theme in conversations with people who really want to grow and want to serve God: loneliness. They might even be very “busy for God” with serving at their church, in their family. But they sometimes seemed uncertain about whether God loved them, or how to get in touch with actually experiencing that love. I wrote it for those women, who know in their heads that God loves them, but still feel an ache of spiritual loneliness in their hearts.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from ‘Deeply Loved’?
Each short chapter offers guidance, a sort of spiritual mentoring, on practices that will help people experience the love of Jesus. So I hope readers will come away changed by those experiences. They will learn spiritual practices that they can return to again and again, and those practices will allow them to live in the presence of Jesus on a daily basis.
Q: The theme of Day 26 of your Lent study is BFFs. In this chapter, you discuss how we long for a “best friend” relationship with Jesus. How is this achieved?
In many ways, the same way we build a best friend relationship with other people: spending time together, being honest, and communicating. We need to cultivate a habit of talking to him throughout our day, including him in our decisions and thoughts. I think the habit of gratitude, of naming the ways God has blessed you, will also contribute to that best friend type of relationship.
In ‘Deeply Loved,’ I write: “I meet many people who want Jesus to love them unconditionally but they are not willing to love him in the same way.” I think a best friend relationship with Jesus requires us to not only receive his love, but respond to it by loving him back.
Q: You note that Peter, James, and John—Jesus’s first disciples—were far from perfect. Do you think our pursuit of perfection stops us from experiencing a deep love in Christ? What else can stop us?
Definitely. We think we have to earn his love, and that keeps us from just relaxing into the grace he offers. The driving emotion behind perfectionism is “I’m not good enough.” Jesus loves us just as we are, but it’s hard to experience it if your self-talk is all about your inadequacies.
The other thing that keeps us from experiencing that love is our pace of life. We’re so busy and hurried that we don’t take time to just be with God, to be still and rest in his love. I say this all the time when I’m speaking: “you can’t love in a hurry.” The converse is also true—it’s hard to receive love in a hurry as well.
Q: There are a lot of roadblocks that can stop us in our tracks. Luckily, we have your Presence Practices to keep us on the right path. Can you summarize today’s Practice?
Today’s practice is study. Specifically, it’s a study of Jesus’ interactions with his closest disciples—Peter, James and John. So the presence practice directs you to read carefully through Matthew 4:18-22; 17:1-13; 26:36-46; and Mark 3:17 and 5:36-38, John 15: 9-17 and to write down some observations about the way Jesus interacted with his best friends. The practice also asks some probing questions for the reader, about their own relationship with Jesus, what steps they can take to get closer to Him.
Q: How does your family like your writing career?
It’s all they've ever known—I wrote my first book when my kids were one and three, and before that I was a freelance business writer, and before that, a newspaper reporter. So they don’t know any different life.
It’s actually been a great career because I mostly work from home, so I can be available to my kids and husband more than if I were in a corporate career. But really, they have nothing else to compare it to—so it’s kind of hard to say how they “like” it.
Many of my books include stories about my kids. However, my kids are now teenagers (17 and 19), and we have an agreement that I won’t use stories about them in my books or my speaking unless I have their permission. And a lot of times, they say “no, don’t tell that story.” It’s important to our relationship that I respect those boundaries.
Q: When did you become a Christ follower?
I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus when I was four or five years old.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a published author?
I was a newspaper reporter right out of college, and did that for many years. I wrote for magazines and business publications for years before I wrote books. I didn't really aspire to be a published author, because I had already had so many articles published. But I found myself writing a book. I was a bit reluctant to try to get that published, but some mentors and friends encouraged me to pursue it. God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos, my first book, was published by InterVarsity Press in 2000. I’ve had ten books published since then and co-written about six or seven others.
Q: Did your work as a reporter help you in your work as an author? If so, how?
Oh, definitely. As a reporter, I had to learn to write quickly, tightly. I had to be concise and precise. That’s great training for a writer. I also learned how to be edited—some writers have never had someone re-write, change or improve their work. That’s a really essential part of the writing process and one some authors don’t have experience with.
Q: How did you enjoy your time as an undergraduate at Wheaton College?
It was a good experience. I made good friends, had fabulous professors. I discovered my calling as a journalist there. I loved the challenging intellectual atmosphere as well.
Q: How can readers find out more about you and your book, Deeply Loved?
Join us online at the Deeply Loved Facebook Page. We’re working through the book during the Lent season, but even after Lent, we’ll have frequent inspirational quotes and pieces of encouragement. You can also follow me on Twitter: @KeriWyattKent.
Thanks to Keri for the valuable insights into your life and work! I look forward to using ‘Deeply Loved’ as a daily reminder of the wonder of our Jesus!