Friday, March 27, 2009

Beloved Author Falls From the Sky--Hear Her Story in Her Own Words on Words to Go

Some might say that novelist Jane Kirkpatrick has led a charmed life. The Kirkpatrick's new life on their ranch has included "clearing sagebrush and wrestling wind and rattlesnakes" while "homesteading" land on the John Day River in a remote part of Oregon known locally as Starvation Point. She and her husband Jerry still live there today. "It's our 'rural 7-Eleven' since our home sits seven miles from the mailbox and eleven miles from the pavement" notes the author of fourteen novels and three non-fiction books. Welcome, Jane, to Words to Go!

JANE: Thank you, Patty. But first let me thank you for inviting me to meet your readers and to have this conversation.

PATTY: Yesterday, Gayle Roper shared the lessons she’s learned waiting on God. You’ve had a few of your own, haven’t you?

JANE: We all have to endure those lessons. For me, one is that the armor of battle is provided by God and I don’t have to fight in every battle. This lesson came 23 years ago this month though it began in January of 1986. We’d made this huge leap of faith by quitting our jobs and moving to 160 acres of rattlesnake and rock a couple of years before that, thinking we had stepped out onto a cloud a faith believing we wouldn’t fall through.

PATTY: I think for us it was twenty years of idealism and ten years of reality to understand that free-falling is not for the faint of heart.

JANE: My husband’s oldest son had been killed a few years before that and with a desire to live fully and to trust God’s guidance, we’d moved there to build a home and a new life there.

PATTY: It was your season of picking up the pieces.

JANE: God had been faithful through all the building woes that come with living seven miles from our mailbox and eleven miles from a paved road and 25 miles from the nearest market to buy milk.

PATTY: You’ve got one of those pioneer spirits. It works well in story telling, where we have a little control. But living in the reality of pioneering a new life is not easy, is it?

JANE: We’d had our setbacks but felt secure in His provision. Then in January during my prayer time when I asked God if he had anything he wanted to say to me this inner voice said “prepare for the battle.”

PATTY: I do that when in prayer. And then when He answers like that, I’ll say, “That’s okay. I don’t need to know.” Or “Could you replay that? I think I misunderstood you.”

JANE: I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to read about (or watch movies about) rare diseases because I always develop the symptoms! So I let that sit. But the next day, the same phrase came to me and I thought, well, what does one do when there’s a battle but you don’t know what it will be?

PATTY: It’s a feeling of exposure.

JANE: I remembered the verse about putting on the full armor of God and decided the best thing to do was to wait; but in the waiting time I delved more deeply into building my faith. I read Hebrews. I read biographies of wonderful Christian people who had endured. I prayed. I felt encouraged.

PATTY: That’s so pro-active, Jane.

JANE: Then we had a major flood. But that didn’t seem like the battle. We were told by the phone company that the seven miles of phone line we’d laid wouldn’t work and we’d have to do it over. But that wasn’t the battle.

PATTY: Do you see why Jane writes fiction? She has that great sense of foreboding.

JANE: In March we went flying one day with friends. We’d kept a small plane and both of us had licenses and that day we’d flown with our instructors for the biannual review that’s required by the FAA. All went well. We were on our way back with our friends (she was 7.5 months pregnant) and as we were coming in for a landing we hit a clear air wind shear.

PATTY: The shock of that must have taken your breath away.

JANE: We crashed in the streets of the nearby town where we kept the plane.Just after the point of impact when all the world to me had been white and I had said in my mind that we were about to die, I felt a pain that I likened to a thousand bee stings all at once. My elbow hit the back of the seat. The bone moved forward, disabling me. So I couldn’t get the seat belt off. I could hear my friend in the back gagging; heard her husband screaming her name; saw my husband’s face all bloody and had to ask if he was alive and then I knew the battle was this. I said to God then that he knew we were there and he would have to take care of things from there. I had never felt more bereft.

PATTY: You obviously lived.

JANE: We all survived.

PATTY: And the baby?

JANE: Our friend did not deliver early though she went in to labor. She has no memory of that accident and didn’t even have a bruise. Her husband had not even a sprain!

PATTY: But you and your husband were not as fortunate, were you?

JANE: Jerry and I got the broken bones--many of them. They put us into the same hospital room after my surgery.

PATTY: What about the crash site? Anyone hurt there?

JANE: The plane was totaled but we had missed all three houses, the power lines and there was no fire.

PATTY: But you still had recuperation ahead.

JANE: We had months and months of healing. And during that time, I found I could not pray, at least not for myself.

PATTY: It’s a hard thing to admit, Jane. But it helps others to hear it.

JANE: But I could pray for other people. Remembering one of the biographies I’d read about a woman in England who had been paralyzed all her life but was a great prayer warrior, she’d prayed for many things and I think it was Oswald Chambers who recognized her part in the great revival of that period.

PATTY: Intercession is such an important practice.

JANE: I know in part I was angry but equally confused. Why have me prepare for such a battle? Why not just stop the battle?

PATTY: Sounds familiar.

JANE: Here’s another lesson: our ways are not God’s ways. So I did keep doing what I’d done before: steeped myself in scripture, kept reading and praying for others during that time when my parents came to take care of us while we healed. One day I came across the scripture in 2 Chronicles where God tells the warriors that they did not have to go out to the battle that day, that the battle was the Lord’s. That was so redeeming! A huge weight lifted and I began to trust again that for whatever reason, something was being worked out within our battle.

PATTY: The times of refreshing come just when we need them.

JANE: In the years since then, I’ve seen evidence of battles worked out as a result of that accident.

PATTY: It set your mind in warrior mode. It made your prayers “effectually fervent”.

JANE: My husband’s youngest son and his wife came to live with us as they dealt with addictions after that; we now needed help on our ranch; they needed a place to heal. They gave birth to a healthy baby girl while they were clean and sober working on the ranch. Years later, when they relapsed, she came to live with us and several years after that, when she was a teenager, and they relapsed again, she again came to live with us and bless us with her life. They have now been clean and sober for nearly six years and my step-son works for us full time. God has given us the resources to sustain our two families in more ways than financial.

PATTY: I hope some of you joining us are remembering those times when it seemed your knees were turning to leather and how it’s turned out now. I know I am. But, Jane, this also set your heart in a locked and loaded position for story telling too, didn’t it?

JANE: I began writing after the accident, things for other people to read; and our friend who had been in the plane said when they got the letters they didn’t read them right away but waited until after supper, turned off the TV and read them out loud because they were like chapters in a book. They became my first book, Homestead, published first by Word in 1991. It isn’t a “how to” book about homesteading; but it is a book about following one’s heart and trusting in God on the journey.

PATTY: One of those beautiful metaphor books that teaches our souls as much as our minds.

JANE: There have been dozens of blessings as a result of that time of waiting and resting in God. From readers, of course; but in little unexpected ways that always bring me back to God being the master of my soul, my life, our lives and future.

PATTY: The journey doesn’t stop.

JANE: People came to help us do work on our land, people we didn’t know. One of the ranchers asked on a particular work day when Jerry and I sat with three legs in casts and three arms in casts how we were doing. “Terrible” I told him. “There are people here we don’t know; we can’t thank them enough; we’ll never be able to repay this.”

PATTY: Depending on God means that sometimes we have to depend on others—more often than not.

JANE: I didn’t say how we had never expected that we would need other people in our grand adventure to clear the land; we were going to do it all on our own! The rancher said “Oh Jane, you miss the point. We love doing this and you give to us when you let us do it for you. You’re right. You’ll never be able to pay it back. The best you can hope to do is pass it on.”

PATTY: What we know about God’s requirement of us in the beginning is miniscule compared to what he unpacks later.

JANE: I think about what the Lord requires of us: to love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly with our God. That verse came home to me as we learned the important lesson of how to receive and to pass that gracious gift on.

PATTY: And then there are the blessings of the fellow sojourners we meet along the way.

JANE: That’s so true. A woman who travels with me as my prayer partner when I lead retreats is the grandmother of that baby who was born full term in April of that fateful year. Her faithfulness has been an inspiration to my life and our friendship has deepened having endured the strain of the accident. God provides all our needs, including the emotional support necessary to help us endure.

PATTY: I have a friend who gets to travel with me when I speak. It makes the isolation of the road so much lighter.

JANE: Yet another lesson this last Sunday while we brought in our soup (we have soup Sundays from January through March to help us all get through the long winters) the retired sheriff was there with his pot of soup and he commented to my husband that wasn’t this the month of our accident. They stood talking and then the Sheriff asked if he’d ever told us that while he and the deputies and ambulances were there getting us off to the hospital that a small child in the house we’d missed choked on something and her mother ran out with her into the street and there were all those first responders and his deputy grabbed the girl and did the Heimlich maneuver and voila! She was fine! He said “if you hadn’t crashed that day right there, I think that little girl might not have made it. I’ve always thought that about that little girl.”

PATTY: Astonishing.

JANE: God worked out all sorts of things that we had no way of knowing about. And still, we keep learning.I’m not sure we would have made it either…God has been so good to us through these many years. I wouldn’t want those broken bones again but I wouldn’t give up the lessons learned from it either.

PATTY: Jane, you’ve schooled us in many ways today. Can I thank you profusely for coming by and chatting with us?

JANE: Thank you, Patty.

PATTY: We’re all on a journey. When we realize that we’re journeying together, not alone, not competing, but in reciprocal fellowship, we learn to rest in God. Jane, you rock!

JANE: I do have a gift.

PATTY: Let me guess.

JANE: The memoir I mentioned, HOMESTEAD—I’d love to send that to one of your bloggers in the give tomorrow. Plus, I have a new novel coming out in April. As soon as it releases, I’ll send a copy of A FLICKERING LIGHT to one of your readers.

PATTY: Hot of the press, folks! Leave your feedback today and every day for a chance to win in Saturday’s Big Give. Next week the Author Buffet continues. Join us Monday for a special visit from an exceptionally talented novelist, Joseph Bentz. Be sure you check in tomorrow for the winner’s list. And do have a wonderful weekend, feasting on the fellowship of your circle of fellow sojourners.