Who knew the story of Noah had so much to teach us about surrendering to God during our most trying times?
Shelley Jarl, author, blogger, and Christian writer, is the administrator of the Faithful Bloggers Facebook group I've belonged to for a while. When she reached out to group members to help her promote her new book, The Humidity Makes My Hair Frizz And It's Really Starting To Stink In Here. I was happy to help. I caught up with this busy woman recently and wanted to share my interview with her. You can read the transcript below or listen to the audio, which is about 13 minutes.
Anyone who leaves a comment below will be put in a drawing to win a signed copy of Shelley's book. If you win, I'll notify you to find out where to mail it.
Interview with Shelley Jarl
Elizabeth C: Good morning. This is Elizabeth Cottrell with Heartspoken.com, and I am just delighted to have author Shelley Jarl with me this morning. I've just finished reading her book that I'm going to get her to tell you about and talk to her a little bit about how it came about and her writing process. Shelley's book is from a Christian perspective, and she is very vulnerable in this book. She has shared pieces of herself that I found very moving and very thought-provoking. Shelley and I met through her Faithful Bloggers group and website. I have appreciated your encouragement through that platform. Welcome, Shelley.
Shelley J.: Thank you, Elizabeth. Thank you very much. Yes, we did meet through Faithful Bloggers, so that's exciting to me. God's been doing some exciting things through my site.
Elizabeth C: Tell us about your book, first of all.
Shelley J.: My book is a parallel to the story of Noah and my life, or an event in my life, I should say. It's the journey of learning to surrender to the Lord things that I was struggling with in my life, things that I was holding back from Him. It came about over time… As I read scripture, God tends to show me things sometimes that I look at in a different way than other people. I just came across the story of Noah, and God just really told me, “I want you to spend time in this story.” It's a story we've all heard since childhood, and yet, God was asking me to spend more time here. Through just spending time studying it, the ideas and book just came to be.
Elizabeth C: Wow. Okay, give us the title, because I just love that – it’s an attention-grabber.
Shelley J.: The title is The Humidity Makes My Hair Frizz and It's Really Starting to Stink in Here.
Elizabeth C: Did that come in a flash, or did that just kind of evolve out of the Noah story?
Shelley J.: It just came. When I first told people that that's what I was naming my book, they thought, okay, like I was crazy. Then, when they read the book, actually, before I launched my book, I asked people if I should change the name, and the answers came back a resounding “No, we want you to keep it the same!”
Elizabeth C: I think we should also give a shout-out to your illustrator, and I don't remember her name. Can you give us that?
Shelley J.: Her name is Nina Cummings, and she's a young lady whose family I know personally. She's an incredible artist.
Elizabeth C: Well, she really did a delightful job. I thought it was just perfect for the title.
One of the things you said in your book’s introduction is how hard it was for you to be vulnerable, and I think we all find that to be true. We all want to put our best foot forward whenever we're interacting with people, particularly if we're doing something as big as writing a book. But I personally thought you were awfully hard on yourself, because I think most Christians find that no matter what our intentions have, we have a hard time distinguishing between what God might be telling us and thoughts from other sources. You said you felt like you weren't following God's wishes…that you were following your own many times. I think it's really hard to make that distinction. Talk to me a little bit about how you do this. How do you distinguish between your own wishes and what you think God is putting on your heart?
Shelley J.: Well first, I have to say that hindsight's 20/20. I can't say that I knew that in the midst of it. I don't know that we ever know for sure, in the midst of it … Maybe that's not right. I think often, in the midst of things, we don't say, “Hm, am I following God's will?” because we're so wrapped up in whatever our trial or circumstance is. Then, once we get on the other side of it, we can see things a little more clearly, like I wasn't following the Lord's will for my life. I was pursuing my own agenda. I do tend to be hard on myself in that regard, maybe more than lots of people. I just really try to surrender myself to God's desires for my life. How we discern that…I think that's a lifelong journey, really. I don't know that there's a definitive answer for that. How do we discern that? I know that, for me, there's a piece—when God keeps closing doors and we keep trying to force them open, I think that's a pretty clear sign that we're not supposed to be going through that door.
Sometimes it's not that clear. Sometimes the door isn't shutting and we're going through it anyway. It's those times that I think are a little more difficult to discern. We really need to seek the counsel of Godly people in our lives. That's a big one. I think that we minimize, sometimes, that God has put Godly people in our life for a reason, for our counsel and for encouragement and to lift us up. If everybody around you is saying no, then we really need to consider some of those things.
Elizabeth C: I think that's a beautiful answer, and I appreciate your honesty about it. Frankly, I'm skeptical of people who think they have all the answers.
Shelley J.: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Elizabeth C: I think that if we had all the answers, where would faith be in that, anyway?
Shelley J.: Well, God placed us in community for a reason.
Elizabeth C: Absolutely. I think that's wonderful. You suggested in your introduction that there was more than one way to approach your book, and one of the ways you suggested would be to read it all the way through and skip the exercises at the end of each chapter. That's exactly what I did, and then I went back, because the ideas required a little bit more digging into scripture and referencing and a little bit of journaling. I found that extremely helpful. What was your thinking about putting the questions there, at the end of each chapter, instead of putting them all together as a study guide?
Shelley J.: This is just how it happened when I originally wrote the book. I have a unique way of writing. A lot of people, they'll labor over something. They'll plug away at it this day, and they'll plug away at it the next day, and a little more the next week. When I write, I tend to just start writing and it just all comes out of me at once, to the point where I can't even do anything else at all until it's out of me. When I first wrote it, that's how it happened. The questions came with the chapters, so that's how I put it together. I have had a number of people tell me that they liked reading through the book, like you did, all at once. So I have actually considered offering it with a version that has the study guide at the end, but there wasn't really a whole lot of thought that went into the questions at the chapters. That's just how it originally came to be.
Elizabeth C: That’s a very valid reason. There will be other Christian writers, spiritual writers, listening to this or reading this interview with you, and I know they'll all be very interested because there's no right or wrong answer to that. It's just a matter of everybody's different style.
Another thing I wondered about—that some of my readers will be interested in—is your use of scripture. Your book was rich, rich, rich with scripture, which I found extremely helpful. What are the pros and cons of just citing the reference as opposed to including the whole piece of scripture every time you reference something? You did it both ways at various times.
Shelley J.: There was more thought process into that. I tended to include the entire scripture written out if more of it applied to the story of Noah or to the Psalms passage that I talk about in the book at length. Anything else that was a scripture reference outside of those, I just did the reference [without the whole quote]. Maybe in a further edition, I’ll do it differently. I'd love to have more feedback on that, actually, if people would like that.
Elizabeth C: I don't even know exactly how I feel about it. I know part of me was wishing I didn't have to keep going back and forth between your book and my Bible, but on the other hand, I can see that putting the entire scripture verse in there could be distracting in its own way.
Shelley J.: That's how I felt. I was concerned about it pulling the thought process too far away from the Noah story and what was going on.
Elizabeth C: Do you know—because I don't—are there any copyright issues with using whole sections of scripture?
Shelley J.: You're supposed to put the reference at the beginning of the book indicating which version of scripture you used. Usually that’s on the copyright page or one of the other Front Matter pages.
Elizabeth C: Got you. So you said in the beginning that your goal was to encourage the reader to begin to identify areas in our life that need to be more fully surrendered to God. What I realized as I was reading it, and especially after I finished reading it, is if that was your goal with me, you've really succeeded. I've found that I did start to examine areas of my own life where I might not be surrendering to God, and unfortunately, there are plenty. Not only that, but I'm also really good at surrendering and then grabbing it back.
Shelley J.: We all are good at that.
Elizabeth C: I was curious what feedback you're getting from other readers about the things that pop out to them. I'm sure, depending on where the reader is in their own faith journey, there are different things that pop out. Have you gotten some feedback that is interesting?
Shelley J.: I think the thing that seems to resonate the most with readers when they read it is where I talk about the desires of your heart. It's actually hard for me to put this into words. The desires are … I'm not saying that this is definitely what the scripture says, but it just led me to look at that scripture in a whole new light. When we think of desires as a tangible item. The desires, for me, are the things God put in me which I desire. If I'm desiring things that are outside of His will, then my desires are not in alignment with Him, but He has put in each and every one of us desires that we can use for His glory. If we really work on figuring out, God, what are the desires that are in me? Did You put these in me, or are these things that I'm desiring on my own accord? Once we can align our desires with the Lord, it makes it so that we can work within His will so much easier, because we're aligned. When our desires are aligned with Him, we can work within his will. That does seem to be the number one thing that people have taken away from this.
Elizabeth C: That's awesome.
Shelley J.: And to surrender the things that are not things that He has put in us.
Elizabeth C: Okay, well, I think that was all I really had to ask you about, except to thank you so much for this and to just pray for you that it blesses others as much as it blessed me.
Shelley J.: Thank you.
Elizabeth C: I sure thank you for being with me today.
Shelley J.: Sure, no problem. Thanks for having me.
Elizabeth C: You bet.
Shelley Jarl is a mom, Christian, entrepreneur, business owner, author, and lover of all things creative. She strives every day to embrace the abundant life God has given her. As a self-proclaimed warrior, she has put on the armor of God numerous times to overcome tremendous adversity in her life. She can be found living down the end of a ridiculously long driveway, in the mountains of New Hampshire. As proof of her insanity, she owns Weimaraners. But, most importantly, she is a sinner saved by a loving Savior, Jesus.
Shelley can be found online at www.becauseliada.com where she encourages people to find their God-given adventure, whatever that looks like for them and live out the abundant life God intended. She can also be found at www.faithfulbloggers.com where she helps Christians connect and get equipped to impact the world with their faith story.
You can read the review of this book I wrote for Amazon HERE. If you purchase the book using my link, you'll help support this blog without paying a penny more than you would otherwise.
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