08 June 2014

Karen Witemeyer on Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown

Author Karen Witemeyer
Overcoming the Unknown
I'm a planner. When our family goes on vacation, I know exactly which hotels we will stop at (reservations were made months in advance), I know which attractions we will visit on which days, and which activities we will engage in. For me, life is much less stressful if I know what to expect. If a crisis emerges, the first thing I do (besides pray) is to start planning how to get through it. Not surprisingly, one of my greatest fears is the fear of the unknown.

In 2003, I was a stay-at-home mom with three children under the age of five. And in 2003, my husband learned that his position was being cut at the university where he worked. When he broke the news to me, I tried to be a good wife. I stayed calm, assured him everything would work out. But inside, the panic button was flashing in red neon and sirens were blaring. What were we going to do?

Thankfully, we were given 6 months' notice, so we had time to plan. Plan? Ha! Putting in applications and praying did not constitute an adequate plan. Too many pieces of the puzzle were out of our control.

Month after month passed. No job offers. My faith became fragile. So I turned to the Word and put my hope in the parable of the persistent widow found in Luke 18. Jesus used this story to teach his disciples that they needed to pray and never give up. So that's what I did. I prayed constantly throughout the day, begging the Lord to provide a job for my husband. Then, when more months went by with no answer, I started praying for the Lord to provide a job for me as well.

I prayed and prayed and prayed. And even when God was silent, I told myself that I would trust him. I repeated that litany to myself constantly, desperate to shore up my flagging faith. No matter what came, God would see us through. That core belief was the lifeline that kept me afloat.

Six months to the day that my husband discovered his position had been cut, he started a new job at the same university. A month later, I started one as well. At the same university. No move required. No need to purchase a second car. Godly grandparents to provide child care. And one other seed took root as well.

God used this time of uncertainty to shock me into following a dream that I had been putting off for years. The dream to write. Thinking I might somehow be able to supplement the family income by writing, I picked up my pen and put it to paper. Even after I re-entered the workforce, the dream refused to die. I kept after it, and six years later, my first novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, hit the bookshelves.

Only God could use my biggest fear to bring about one of the biggest blessings in my life.

Karen's newest novel just released, "Full Steam Ahead."
Bio:
Christy Award finalist and winner of both the ACFW Carol Award and HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.   

Buy links for Full Steam Ahead:
Purchase at Amazon - Click here 
Christianbook.com – Click here
Barnes & Noble – Click here



Giveaway: Paperback copy of Full Steam Ahead for one commenter on this post. Answer the question: Do you have trouble coping with the unknown?



57 comments:

  1. Coping with the unknown..............yes, yes, and yes, I do have trouble coping with it. The last 4 years have been this way with the death of my husband and several medical issues/concerns. I've had the same prayer since then - show me "your will." I had my life all planned out (in detail), but God has other plans. Just what those plans are is unknown at this time, but I will find out when the time is "right."
    susanlulu@yahoo.com
    Susan in NC

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    1. Oh, Susan - I'm so glad I'm not the only one who struggles with this. :-) I'm slowly learning to submit to the truth of Proverbs 19:21 - Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. - And isn't that what I should want? For the Lord's purpose to prevail? The more I come to trust his plans, the easier it becomes to let go of my own. Some days this is harder than others, though.

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    2. Susan, you are such a sweet person and such a blessing to so many people, myself included. I pray God blesses you abundantly! Hugs!

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  2. KAREN, thank you for being with us this week on OWG and for sharing your wonderful testimony! I would venture to say that it resonated with just about everyone. We all tend to have a fear of the unknown if we are human. If we have been thru it before the fear may not be AS great since it isn't the "unknown" anymore, but when we fully trust God He gives us peace over the uncertainty of the future. I'm currently battling this fear as surgery is imminent, but God is helping me and so did your testimony!

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    1. Thank you so much for welcoming me, Diana! Trust is such a big thing when it comes to handling fear, and something I have to constantly strive for. I'll be praying for you as you near the time for surgery. Praying for healing, for health, and most of all for peace as you face the unknown.

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    2. Thank you so much for your prayers, Karen! xoxox

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  3. I like adventure! I do like to know where I am spending the night and make hotel reservations in advance. One of these was an adventure as well. Years ago our youngest daughter and I took side trips down old highways the week before the rest of our family was joining us at our destination. I had made a reservation in Kansas City and was glad to get to our hotel, as it was getting dark and suppertime. After standing in line to check in, they couldn't locate our reservation. Certain I had made it, I showed them my confirmation ~ on the opposite side of the city ~ "... way over here on the map." The good news? We had an outer-side first floor room, were able to have pizza delivered to the door, I had cash, and we giggled, ate pizza in bed and watched an old children's movie on TV. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

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    1. Love it, Kathleen! I like a little adventure, too, and try to leave some room for spanenaity in our trips when possible. We took a 10 day, 500 mile trip from Texas to California, up to Oregon, back down through Utah and Colorado several years ago, and one of our favorite stops was completely unplanned. We had gone to Bryce Canyon and were on our way to Colorado when I realized that Arches National Park was practically right off the interstate. Too close not to stop. So we did. Let the kids get out and hike around on the formations. It was fabulous! We only stayed a few hours since we needed to travel many more miles that day, but had more fun there than some of the planned stops. A little flexibility is always a good thing. :-)

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  4. (sorry, I saw a 'you' that needed to be a 'your' and deleted to fix - didn't see an edit option :)

    I'm reading FULL STEAM AHEAD now - love your cover and your title, Karen :) I liked it when you said, "I repeated that litany..." of trusting in Him. I'm so blessed He gives me new songs to sing to help me get through tough times. One I shared at church this morning goes "I will trust in You, I will trust in You. When trouble comes my way and trials fill my day, I will trust in You. Because I know You are on the throne; because I know You are in control. Because I know how much You love me, that You're always thinking of me...I will trust in You."

    And you, Susanlulu :) He gave me another song: "I just want to be in Your will, Father, I just need to know Your will for to walk in obedience is what I want to do, for to walk in obedience shows how much I love You." There's more, but isn't it so reassuring that we can trust He will show us His will and lead us on righteous paths because He loves us! In the midst of the troubles an d trials, it is SO HARD to see, to wait, to stand steadfast and not waiver - as you did Karen!

    And just see the favor and blessings God has brought, giving you the opportunity to bless His Kingdom doing something you love! Our Father is all together GOOD! Hugs! And thanks Carrie for having Karen. She's such a blessing.

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    1. I love that God gives your songs, Caryl! That is so cool. Loved the testimony I read before about God giving you a song when you were pitching to an editor about on elf your book! Hugs!

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    2. So true, Caryl! And what beautiful songs! I've always considered music one of my spritiual "love languages". My spirit just seems to soar when certain songs touch my life at just the right time. I know God is speaking to my heart and encouraging me, sometimes even chastening me - for I need that, too. I am so thankful for the gift of song and the ministry that can be.

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  5. Oh how I love Karen's books, thank you for the chance to win this one.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Hi, Wendy. Thanks for being such a loyal reader. You are a blessing to me!

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  6. I have trouble coping with the unknown re my health and pain issues for the last 18 months! Never had pain so this is a real challenge for me, and only God gets me through each day.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

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  7. Some of my comment did not go through.....I want to add that I love Karen's books and have read them all so far...am very anxious to read this one!

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    1. Thanks, Jackie. Pain is so hard to deal with, and all the unknowns that go along with it. How long will it last? Can it be cured? Will this latest treatment help? I have several dear friends who struggle with chronic back pain, and it's a constant battle, both physical and spiritual. I'll be praying for you, for physical relief and spiritual courage to endure. Blessings!

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  8. Hi Karen. Loved reading your post. Glad GOD seen to you both getting jobs and at the same place. Makes things much easier. I was fearful enough at my age to make a trip to a place in NY to visit my brother. Not so bad with the short trios I have made in the past when went straight through, but being leary of changing planes and missing my connection, and losing my luggage, etc. The only place they now have a straight through from here to NYC but that is still 6 hrs. or more to whee I need to be. I hate this for my brother now has cancer, and I think the daughter that was going to buy the ticket is now broke. It was real high to my budget.And, I haven't flown since they started the feely feely thing or a picture showing you naked either. so missed trips to see some of the grandkids. Of course this was also after I kept getting sick so often. Never knew from one day to the next. Bad wozzie headaches, dizziness, nausea and lightheaded I don't drive or go places at this time. Sometimes I feel fine when I get up and get dressed to go somewhere like church, then before time to leave hits me. So got in a habit of staying home too much. And yes, have been to the docs a lot and even ER, but they never find the problem. Still never know when will hit, but have been having longer times of feeling well this year. Needing to make myself get out of the habit of staying home so much now. I was some fearful of how long I would have had my husband when he got cancer, but just knew it was in GOD's hands. And he gave us 9 years instead of the 3 the doc had said at most with the meds. Praise GOD. And, was some fearful of being alone at night when he passed and we had moved to a big city from a small town, but no matter how many times I was fearful, I knew GOD would see me through. I would love to win your book Karen. So glad my sweet OWG had you here today. I do love that bunch. They have blessed me so much. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. You've certainly been through a lot, Maxie. So glad you can still see the blessing in the midst of all the uncertainty and health issues. It may sound simple, but I truly believe that if we get in the habit of counting our blessings instead of our woes, it becomes easier to see God as good and trustworthy and loving. Makes us happier, too. :-) I'm glad you are doing that, focusing on the years of blessing God granted you with your husband. That's an encouragement to me.

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  9. Sorry, much too long. :o( Will try to keep it shorter next time. Maxie

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  10. Thank you so much for your absolutely wonderful review! This book sounds tremendous! Yes, I fear the unknown but trust in God moment by moment an day by day. God always takes care of things eventually. I thank you especially for sharing your own difficulties and faith life and how things came along better with God than you had hoped. I look forward to you as one of my new authors as I have never had the pleasure of hearing of you before. I sure would really love to win this book ! thanks so much for this contest. Sincerely, Mary Lou K flowersmaryloyu85(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Sister MaryLou this is not a review, it is a post. All that moving you all are having to do up there must have you flustered. I hope and pray they get the new quarters all set up soon! Hugs!

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    2. Thanks, Mary Lou! You are so right. We need to take things one step and at a time - Not worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. Thanks for your comment!

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  11. My husband has been out of work several times and every time the panic button has gone of. I have trouble with the unknown. However, I am learning to rely on God to take care of us. You would think I would have learned the lesson after all this time but I am getting better at it.
    I would love to win a copy of this book.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

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    1. It is certainly a roller coaster, isn't it, Susan? As much as my faith grew during that time, I must admit, I'm in no hurry to repeat the experience. Some lessons just have to be relearned over and over. It's a good thing God is so patient with us, isn't it? :-)

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  12. I don't have a lot of trouble with the unknown. I'm a very practical person in that I deal with what I can & embrace an attitude of trust for the rest.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Great, Mary. That pragmatism can be a blessing. As crazy as it sounds - I found that if I imagine the worst case scenario (for example - if we ended up on the streets after losing our home) and ask myself - Would I still love God if this happened? When I can honestly answer yes, then suddenly my actual problems seem tiny in comparison and trust comes easier. - I know. I'm strange. :-)

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  13. Even when I feel like I'm handling the unknown well, my body frequently chooses to disagree, leaving me with anxiety-induced nausea and vomiting (which is NOT beneficial to coping with stress). Dating was probably the worst long-term unknown I've ever had to deal with (thankfully I only had to date one man!) For months I could scarcely eat with him without throwing up, which is not conducive to romantic dinners. My college roommates called it being "love sick," but it can trigger over just about any unknown, even job interviews for my husband. So while I'm getting better at keeping my mind at peace, my body is harder to control!

    Thanks for the interview! I love reading your stories!
    rdalquis(at)css(dot)edu

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    1. Ouch. That sounds miserable, Rachael. I tend to feel stress in my neck and shoulders and sometimes a churning in my stomach, but I've never had it to your extreme. I hope things are better for you now.

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  14. What an incredible journey God led you on! The unknown was hard for me when we were approved for adoption, but waiting to be selected. Every six months or so I would think, now would be the perfect time to adopt a baby... but God didn't grant us the blessing and I wondered why, until unforeseen circumstances changed in our life. And it so happened that the change in our path led us to our first daughter. Looking back, all the pieces fell into place so perfectly, but in the moment we couldn't see it. During the difficult and emotional times of disappointment and waiting, keeping my trust in the Lord's will and timing brought comfort. We just adopted our second daughter (seven years later), and God's blessings have been so amazing and well worth waiting for.

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

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    1. What a perfect example, Heidi! I love it. I try to teach my kids that God is working for their ultimate good, so even when we don't get what we pray for or disappointments happen, we can still trust that God has something even better that what we can ask or imagine in store for us. Although, sometimes I think I need the reminder more than they do. :-)

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  15. I love your post/testimony, Karen!!

    I guess I would be called a planner, also, at least in some areas of my life. I also used to be a controller and insistent on leading my life "my" way. There were many times in my past when I did have a "fear of the unknown" as I wasn't following God's plan for my life and putting my trust in Him. It's so amazing and awesome to look back and see how, even then, He was protecting me - while waiting for me to realize through the valuable lessons learned from my mistakes, just how much I needed Him in my life. He took the "messes" I had made and worked them out for my good.

    I think I will always have concern about the unknown as I have had numerous serious health issues in the past, again just recently, and continuing even today as I have another appointment with my oncologist - however, in my spirit, there is a peace as I now know God is in control, has a plan and purpose for everything, and I trust and put my faith in Him and that plan.

    Karen, I'm SO glad God used your biggest fear to bring about the biggest blessing your life - because in so doing, He has also blessed each of our lives with the inspiration from your wonderful books!! Thanks for using your God-given talent to shine His light!!

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie! What an encouragement it is to me to read your story. It's so hard to relinquish our own control of things. But you have succeeded with God's help, and I pray he will continue to bring about the same miracle in my life.

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  16. KAREN, what an wonderfully inspiring testimony!! Don't you love how God is such a last-minute God, lol! Anything to help us grow in our faith hey? I've had times like these also... both where God has given me the 'gift of faith' where I knew without a shadow of a doubt He'd come through, and others, where like yourself, I've become like the 'annoying widow'! :)

    To answer Carrie's question, YES, I do sometimes have a fear of the unknown for sure! BUT, I also have come a long way in learning that God really IS in control. Coming to work on OWG was for me really scary... I wasn't exactly sure what was expected of me, and so afraid of letting Carrie and the others down! But the Lord led me to Carrie and to OWG, and I have found a family, growth in many areas including writing, and purpose in both supporting inspiring authors and in encouraging anyone the Lord leads me to.
    I have to mention also, that it is stories like yours Karen, that constantly build upon my faith in the area of trusting God to have a plan for us, believing that all will work out for good for those that love the Lord. Thank you for that and God bless!

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    1. Noela - You inspire so many. Including me with your enthusiasm for my stories and just the way your personally encourage me. Every time I doubt my abilities, I try to remember that God's power is made perfect in weakness. Isn't that the most empowering idea? He doesn't need us to be perfect. He just needs us to be willing. Thank heaven!

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  17. Karen, thank you that was powerful! I don't have difficulty with the unknown, I have been blessed with that, I believe...going through life that our Lord has led me I am grateful that I followed His leads, at times not knowing and just going because of His voice telling me so...Example, leaving the job I loved, moving to Florida...I didn't know anyone there, but, I believe God sent an angel to guide me, and before I left, I had a dream of a young man needing me and in that dream God was showing me who he was...so, I packed with my angel at my side we found an apartment and then, I found a new position...as soon as that was accomplished my angel was gone, never saw her again...with that I needed a roommate...I met one at my new place and then she needed to move back home to Louisiana...her suggestion for my new roommate was her daughter's boyfriend, little did we know that she would leave him but, again I believe He knew what He was up to...We married the following year...It's been 23 years...and it's been like that...following His voice to go here or there...The next time was moving 3 months later to Washington State...again, not knowing anyone!

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    1. What a testimony of faith, Juanita. I love how God can weave all the various threads of our lives into a beautiful tapestry. You've encouraged me to be more courageous about stepping into the unknown. Thank you!

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  18. KAREN Thank you so much for sharing this with us! It was very encouraging to me as my husband just received a diagnosis of cancer. God got us through this when our sons were just 3 and 5 and I know He'll do it again!! God is faithful and just when He we need him most He shows up and man does He show out!! When I was a kid my dad would Jeremiah 33:3 "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."

    Carrie funny you should ask that question right now! lol Last week I would have probably said YES but right now there have been so many scriptures coming to me since Friday I can firmly say..I will not fear!! "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?" Psalm 188:6 "...Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day..." Exodus 14:13 I have a new motto, it may not be correct grammar and it's not a complete sentence but it's what came out of my spirit when the doctor gave us the test results....GOD'S GOT THIS!!

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    1. What an encouragement, Teresa! I can hear your faith loud and clear, and it is awesome! You know, I think the phrase "fear not" or "do not be afraid" appears more than any other message in the Bible. I think God knows our tendencies and our weakness. I'm so glad you have the courage to rely fully on him to see you and your family through this. May he grant you peace of mind and healing of body.

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  19. Thank you for sharing with us a time you struggled not being able to plan it all! Yes, I struggle with the unknown. I don't fear much else except that. I don't like not knowing what my options are and how it will (basically) end. You have given me inspiration and help, thank you!
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Susan. Sometimes it's just encouraging to know that I'm not the only one who battles on this front.

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  20. Married at 18 and now married 57 years and have 5 grown children. Many occasions to feel anxious and uncertain. At this point in time though, I think my biggest fear is that of being by myself. I have never lived alone. Have never been responsible for the bills, etc. I have worked outside the home and am computer and internet savvy, yet fear of being alone and unprotected is very real to me.

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    1. Hmmm.... I don't know how you're going to notify the "winner," so just in case it is me, I'll give you a "safe" version of my email godleyv [at] yahoo{dot}com

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    2. What a wonderful example you are! 57 years!!! That's tremendous! My husband and I just celebrated out 22nd anniversary last week. I know what you mean about being alone. In naturally introverted, and sometimes I wish I had more alone time. But then on those days when my husband is gone on a trip and I'm home alone, the house just feels so empty. I hope you don't have to live alone Vera, but if you do, I know God will be there with you.

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    3. Vera, we've recently switched over to announcing winners in the upper right hand corner. We can usually find people and if not they can email me at the email address listed. God is always with us--that is one thing we can count on.

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  21. Oh yes, I have difficulty coping with the unknown! That's where I'm living right now, trying to "cast all my cares on the Lord" but still waking up each morning with anxiety. I pray often and have to keep trusting. I do remember what a missionary shared at church years ago, "I 'd rather go into the unknown with God than stay in the known without Him." Thanks for sharing your story, Karen. I'm glad your difficulties then prompted you to write. I've read and enjoyed all your books and am eager to read this newest one. I'd love to win it!
    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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    1. What sage advice, Pam. I love that. Thank you for sharing!

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  22. I am a lot better than I used to be about the unknown. I used to think I had to be in control of all aspects of my life. Most days I know that it will all work out. That being said I have good days and bad days. Whenever I am stressed out or feeling bad I find one thing I can control. It can be as simple as cleaning out a drawer or closet. I have had to quit a lot of my responsibilities so that I can focus on my husband and parents and my health. I try to take each day as it comes and balance what needs to be done with plenty of rest. Today is a good day.

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    1. You have a lot of wisdom, Jan. Thanks for sharing!

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    2. I couldn't have said it better myself, Jan. Control what we can and leave the rest in God's hands.

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  23. Honestly it's not a huge issue for me. I pretty much take things as they come and trust the Lord for the future...

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I'm learning that skill very SLOWLY, Patty. Some days I feel like I'm going with the flow pretty well, and others I feel like I'm drowning. Thankfully, God is there through it all to keep me anchored.

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  24. I hate coping within the you know what. But if I do and I have too some times I just give all my burdens too The Lord and ask him to help me get through it.
    oh.hello.hiya@gmail.com

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    1. Prayer has to be the biggest anti-stress weapon we have, Danie. Although, I still have to learn to let go of the worry after I pray about it. Sigh. There's always room to grow, isn't there?

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  25. Surprisingly, I rather like the unknown, to a certain extent. I know, I'm an odd ball. Ü

    Congratulations on your latest book, Karen. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

    ~Cindi

    cindialtman(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. That is a great attitude, Cindi! Embracing and trusting God in the unknown is commendable!

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  26. Yes I do. I'm acuallt having mini panic-attacks right now becUsevof some uncertainty this coming school year. I just pray for the Lord's will, because I know of it's his will I'll be able to handle it.

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    1. Praying for you, Tonja. May God touch you and bring healing from the anxiety as you rest in Him. Blessings!

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