This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with Pastor Debbie Lindell and talk with her about her new book She Believes. Her new book helps you to understand how living a faith-filled life will change you, your circumstances, and your relationships, and will make a difference in how you respond to everything that happens around you. She Believes released October 4, 2016, and is available to order now!
Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
The thing that comes to mind the most is how different I am than I was when I was younger. My personal life goal is to be able to say to anyone, “Watch me and follow” because I will lead them to Jesus. Does that always happen the way I hope? Probably not, but that is my greatest desire.
What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?
One time I locked the key in my car before a Wednesday night service. I was so frustrated because I needed to get to church, I had things I needed to do, and the only spare key was on John’s key ring. So I called him, but he wouldn’t be able to let me in my car for at least an hour. So, I sat on the sidewalk with the kids and waited for John. He finally pulled up and parked on the passenger’s side of the car. Gets out of the car reaches into the car on that side and unlocks the door. The window was down, and I had sat there the whole time! (Debbie laughs).
It wasn’t like I had dreamed about writing a book, it was more like God had opened a door, and as I stepped through the door, He revealed it was His will.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Around eight years ago, I was walking in the church parking lot with a friend and she turned to me and said, “Debbie, I think one day you should write a book.” I remember thinking someday I will, which was an odd thought. As I processed writing a book, I thought, I can write about the themes of the conference because we had had five conferences at that point and I loved coming up with the ideas. God would put context around it and it would become a message for the girls that year. Time passed, and I had never revisited the idea of writing a book until John brought it up to me again, and at the time, I can’t say I jumped on it. It wasn’t like I had dreamed about writing a book, it was more like God had opened a door, and as I stepped through the door, He revealed it was His will.
You mentioned you were on vacation when John said that you should write a book. What is the context of that conversation?
We had been trying to get to Hawaii for vacation. Three times we went to the airport and three times we were turned away because of weather issues around the country that made it impossible for us to fly out. And the third time we tried and were turned away, we thought, “Maybe we’re not supposed to go.” And John said, “Maybe they will give us our money back,” which airlines rarely refund your money. And I am always the one who asks for refunds, so he said, “Go and work your magic on them and see what you can do.” So I went up to the desk and told them the story of trying to get to Hawaii but not being able to go, and she said, “Would you like all your money back?” They gave us every penny back! We ended up in Branson at a hotel for three or four days, and the first morning we were both having our devotions and John yelled, “Debbie, come in here for a minute; I have something I want to talk to you about!” So I went into where he was praying and sat down next to him, and he said, “I think you’re supposed to write a book.”
So, writing a book was not in the forefront of your mind, and yet, She Believes has been written. How did all of this happen?
We didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what I would write about, we were dreaming up ideas that day, and we kept going back to the conference as the template for the book. I started getting excited looking back to the conversation I had with my friend eight years ago, and began thinking “Well, maybe this is the Lord’s will.” So, we just thought, “Okay, God will show us what to do.”
The purpose behind She Believes is to inspire girls no matter what their age, what their season in life, or what their history is, to believe God.
And the next day, a friend that’s in ministry who is connected with the publishing world was driving by the church, called John’s cell phone and said, “John, I think you should write a book,” and John said, “It’s not me, it’s Debbie.” That got the ball rolling. He talked us through the process and set up our first phone interview with an agency. I still wasn’t even sure what I was going to write about, so this was a crazy interview, but in the meeting, God’s presence filled the room; that’s the only way to describe it. There was just a grace on it. I threw out the ideas for the themes of the conference and within a half hour, they said they would send me a contract that day. I was stunned. Within a couple of months, we had three publishers that were interested, and I signed a contract with Baker-Revell.
What is the heart behind She Believes?
The purpose behind She Believes is to inspire girls no matter what their age, what their season in life, or what their history is, to believe God. And for any girl that could be interpreted differently, but hopefully, they walk away inspired to believe what God is speaking to them. It could be walking by faith regarding sin issues that they’re dealing with, or maybe past situations they haven’t been able to give to the Lord, so I deal with a lot of life issues in the book. The whole goal is for that girl, whatever she’s struggling to believe God could help her with, that after reading the book, her faith would be strengthened whether she was a believer or not. I wanted a girl to be able to pick it up no matter how long or how little she had walked with God and be encouraged in her faith. I wanted girls who have never walked with Jesus to be able to understand concepts in the book. As well, it was my desire that any girl whatever her age would be able to comprehend what is being written. I feel like the Lord helped me to write in a relevant way to a young girl or a girl that is more mature in her faith or as a person.
I know She Believes is written to girls to inspire them to believe God for their life, but it almost seems like She Believes is your story of how you came to believe God for big things in your life. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what it meant for you?
I think in that particular season of my life, God was convicting me, and challenging me to believe some things about who He is, and how He viewed me. That was a turning point for my journey as a leader and took me to a whole new level of faith in God. John and I had been pastoring James River Church for about 13 years, and it was at that time that the women’s ministry director had stepped down, it happened to be my mom. She stepped down because she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and so I was walking with her through that, which was extremely emotional, but as well, now I was responsible for the women who were a part of James River Church. And I remember thinking, “God you have to find a leader to lead all these women, and there’s a lot of them, so you have a big job!” (Debbie laughs). And you could have called me Jonah because if I took inventory of my heart, I was running from what God was calling me to do. I was very afraid, and still struggling with insecurity, which now I view differently. I think, as a side note, a lot of us hide behind insecurity, and it’s because of a lack of faith. They hide behind saying, “I’m not enough, or I’m just insecure or shy.” And it is because they have not dealt with their lack of faith and what God says about them, and for me, it was dealing with that.
Once I said yes, my heart changed. I began trusting that God would help me. Once I believed, everything changed.
I loved the Lord, I loved God, I had walked with him for years, but I had not entirely submitted that area of my life to him. So I took a day to pray. I felt like I needed to take time with God because I was not getting the answer I wanted. I felt like God was calling me, but I wanted him to call someone else. And I don’t know how He did it, but in the eight hours alone with my Bible and a box of Kleenex, I came out of that room different.
Once I said yes, my heart changed. I began trusting God that He would help me. Once I believed, everything changed. God started to give me names, and I knew who I could call to help me lead. God began to give me clear direction on what I needed to do, and it was at that time that one morning I heard God tell me, “You need to go to Australia,” but I didn’t know the specifics of why I needed to go. And I remember thinking that is a crazy thought. Why would I need to go to Australia? I don’t know anyone over there. And that went on for several months, almost every morning as I had my devotions.
Two weeks later, the same friend that would later talk to me about the book, a very faith-filled girl, asked me while we were at lunch, “How can I pray for you?” I said, “Well, I have the oddest thing happening to me, and I need God to show me what to do with it because I can’t get it off my mind. John and I talked about it, but I can’t get past it, and I don’t know what to do about it.” So, I told her about it, and she said, “We need to go back to the office,” she worked here at the time, “and we need to go tell John that you need to go.” So I said, “Okay.” We went into John’s office, and he and another pastor were sitting there, and she said, “Pastor, I think Debbie needs to go to Sydney, Australia.” And they both looked up and said, “Well, okay, let’s make it happen.”
I still didn’t know why I was going. So we did a little research. We found out that there was a Women’s Conference at Hillsong Church in Sydney, so we scheduled our visit around that, which I was excited about because of all the things that were transpiring with the women at our church. I found myself on a plane heading to the conference with two other girls that were on staff, and I didn’t sleep for 15 hours. I had my Bible open for nearly the whole trip, and I was asking God for wisdom, and everyone around me was asleep. On that flight, I opened up to Exodus and was reading the story where God tells Moses that he was going to speak, and I knew when I read it, it was me. And I knew it would be from the platform, which I didn’t know how it would be possible.
I honestly believe any girl that believes God for her life, and that he has a purpose for her, He’s going to connect her to big things.
We got off the plane; we were an hour and a half late, and previously one of JRC pastors had reached out to Hillsong and let them know we were coming. We cleaned up in the airplane restrooms. We washed our hair in the sink and dried them with the blow-dryers. We looked lovely. (Debbie laughs). We got to the church campus, and I knew everything that was happening was by God’s design. We pulled up, and a girl was there and told us she had been waiting for us. I remember thinking, “Why is she waiting for us?” She walked us inside, and Bobby Houston had just gone up to speak. She stopped and said, “The Missouri girls are here!” I thought, how did she know? “Come on down,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for you!” She had seats for us in the front, and as we sat down, she said, “I want you to open your Bibles to Exodus chapter 2, I want to talk to you about when Moses wanted to run from God.”
I burst into tears. My exact emotion was conviction. God had to make all of that happen, so I could believe what He said was true. If you look up the opposite side of the world from here, it’s almost exactly Sydney. If there is a foundation story for She Believes this would be it because I honestly believe any girl that believes God for her life, and that he has a purpose for her, He’s going to connect her to big things. He will connect her to be an intricate part of something.
Let’s fast-forward. You have started the Designed for Life Conference. And in She Believes, you talk about being insecure about your looks, your personality, and your ability, and now you are standing on the stage in front of 10,000 women. What do you feel when you walk out and see them all?
I think if anyone is choosing to walk by faith, we are on the front lines, and the enemies arrows are pointed at us.
Well, I would love to say I never battle feelings of doubt, and I think the enemy hates what has happened with the Designed for Life Conference, so he’s going to do whatever he can to whisper lies to any person involved in making it happen. I think if anyone is choosing to walk by faith, we are on the front lines, and the enemies arrows are pointed at us. When I go to step out on that platform, there is never a time when I don’t feel like there’s an onslaught of arrows pointed at me. I have to make the choice to rise by faith and do what He’s called me to do. Even the year that I was very ill, and it took every effort to step out in faith, I still felt a supernatural grace and that God was going before me.
You are notorious for regularly inviting ladies to the Church, to DFL, to Designed Sisterhood Nights, and in your book, you have a particular chapter that talks about on not missing connections. Is that something that comes naturally to you? Did you have to learn that, and what advice can you give to girls who struggle with that?
I think of the verse of Scripture that says “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” And I think all of us are called to shine for Jesus through our visible representation of His presence on us, so I pray for that. I pray that when a girl walks past me, she will notice something is different about me. I don’t always hit the mark on that. I’m human. There’re times I struggle with attitude, which is in the book as well. (Debbie laughs). I readily admit to that. But when you make it your desire to shine for Jesus, God is going to put an opportunity in your path. It doesn’t have anything to do with position or personality; it has to do with faith. If a girl is walking by faith, and saying, “God I’m going to shine for You. I’m going to be a light for You; use me however You will,” He’s going to connect that girl with those who don’t know Him. But we have to be watching.
What is a lesson you learned from writing this book?
When you make it your desire to shine for Jesus, God is going to put an opportunity in your path.
Any time you strive to make a decision to go to another level or do something for God. The enemy is going to battle you. The enemy is never going to give up; He’s going to keep striving to stop us from doing the will of the Father, and so I knew I couldn’t give up, even though I wanted to give up so many times while writing She Believes. I had cancer, I was fatigued, and dealt with depression. I had never battled with depression in my entire life, but I did while I was writing the book, and I know it was Satan. I also realized the value of being surrounded by believers. I don’t know how unbelievers make it through life.
When girls preorder the book, they get the audiobook free and some other gifts. Can you tell us about the audiobook?
It was a blast! That was a surprise to me because they invited me to read the book, which I was excited to do. My heart was that every girl that read the book would feel like I was talking directly to them.
In your introduction, you write, “Grab a cup of coffee or whatever sounds nice, and I’ll meet you in chapter 1,” and at the end of She Believes you write, “See you again at our favorite café, until then, keep believing my friend.” I’m sure the girls would like to know, will there be another book?
Probably. I would say yes. Even though it was hard, even though I felt attacked in ways, I have never experienced before; I loved writing it. I loved connecting. I really did feel like I was connecting with someone when I was writing. I loved connecting with that person, and I would love to connect with them again.
You can order your copy of She Believes on Amazon!