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A Holy Pursuit Author Q&A

Andy Whisenant | Mar 5th

What prompted you to write this book?

I believe there is a need for women to see that the message of the gospel does intersect with dream-chasing. There is so much out there in the world influencing Christian women today. Culture tells us things like, “Chase after your dreams, no matter the cost” or “The cost of not following your heart is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.”

These mindsets affect both men and women of the church today. Should Christians chase their dreams? But doesn’t Jesus say to die to self? Is dreaming at all a totally selfish endeavor, or is it okay in certain situations? How do we navigate whether or not we should move forward with an idea that we just can’t seem to shake?

I wish someone handed me this book nine years ago. I remember how caught up I was in my own dream-chasing and how much inner turmoil stirred within my own heart and mind as I tried to navigate those dreams while walking in the roles as wife and mom that God had called me to. All this to say, I wrote this book to offer an alternative message to what is so prevalent today. 

Who did you write it for?

This book is for any woman with a dream in her heart—regardless of her situation or what her spiritual walk looks like. This is for the one asking herself whether or not she should move forward with an idea stirring within her heart, for the one who wonders if her life is wasted and she should be doing “more.” 

But this is also for the one who hustles, has exhausted herself for years and is wondering if she should sustain her pace. Ultimately, this is for the person who wants to hear more than just self-help advice and is genuinely seeking after the truth of God.

How would you describe this book and your vision for it?

While part of this book is my sharing the journey I have walked as I sought  my own pursuits and ambitions, my aim is really to point women back to God through Scripture. My experience alone doesn’t offer hope for the woman reading. My prayer for her is that the focus of her life remains in Christ, and that happens when we all cling to the gospel message itself. So, there are some portions where we are digging into the Word a little more than one would expect in a book about “chasing dreams,” but obviously story is important, too. And when I think back to my small dreams and how God placed both roadblocks and opened doors in my own life, I am just amazed and am praying this encourages the readers of this book, too.

Tell us about “Deeply Rooted Magazine.” You founded this magazine and are the chief editor. What prompted you to begin it, and what is your hope for it? How did your journey and work with the magazine speak into the message in the book on calling, work and pursuit of God?

My husband and I started “Deeply Rooted Magazine” in early 2014 through a crowdfunding campaign. It is merely a ministry that encourages women to be deeply rooted in Jesus Christ (Col. 2:6-7).  One huge reason I started “Deeply Rooted” was to combat culture and a lot of the worldly ideas that seep into the Christian world of books, movies and other products and point women to God. The primary means of doing this is through our annual publication, which has articles ranging from DIYs and recipes to our ongoing Theology 101 series. The gospel connects to our everyday living, and we hope women make that connection when they read our magazine.

What’s interesting is that I never set out to be a magazine maker. Pursuing a career in photography was my dream, but the Lord had other plans, and over the years, I have learned there are times to lay down, press pause on and even follow dreams. This is what I share in my book. Both the magazine and this book directly tie into each other because they fulfill the same aim: to proclaim Jesus. The pursuit of God must be the primary focus of our life, and from there, all other things fall into place. At the end of the day, the best step we can take forward is a step of obedience. 

What’s one big lie you think women believe about dreams, ambitions or pursuits?

Oh, there are so many. However, one lie may women believe about dreaming is the idea that those who are not currently chasing their  dreams waste their life. For example, stay-at-home moms are so susceptible to believing this lie. They don’t see immediate fruit in their labor. They don’t bring home a paycheck and feel discouraged because they don’t contribute financially. But even the working woman or college student isn’t immune to believing this lie. She might lack job satisfaction, or the tedious work of her studies may not feel like she is changing the world.

Our culture offers pictures of what a successful woman is: Maybe she is the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company or has thousands of followers on Instagram. Women do not need to be defined by temporal cultural ideas because the Bible tells them who they are in Christ. 

Why is comparison such a massive struggle for us women? Because we often base our standard for womanhood on what we see happening in real-time online. But when conforming to the image of Christ becomes our standard, we are free to let go of what is trending now and strive towards the eternal. A life in pursuit of him is not wasted. 

What do you hope women learn from reading “A Holy Pursuit”? How do you hope they are changed?

My first and foremost hope is that the woman reading this book is changed and transformed by the gospel. It is so easy to get lost in the excitement of chasing a dream that we lose sight of our purpose: to love God, love others and make disciples. Pursuing God above all is foundational to the way we make decisions and spend our time, and, therefore, to the way we dream. This book helps connect those dots, and so my prayer is that through that and some of the practical self-evaluation questions I ask, they have the clarity to know whether or not they should pursue, press pause on or lay down a dream.

How does the gospel inform the way we dream?

The gospel says that our sin separates us from a holy God, but if we confess our sins and believe in Jesus Christ, he saves us sinners from the curse of the fall, from ourselves, from death and from the eternal wrath that was coming for us.. 

But we know that living a gospel-focused life isn’t a one-prayer-and-done kind of deal. It is a lifelong commitment to pursue God and what is holy and righteous. So, we dream with him in mind. And that frees us to be okay with whatever the outcome of our dream is. If our dream proves to be “successful,” it’s to his glory. And if it doesn’t prove to be “successful,” it is still to his glory. 

This was the mindset that kept Ethan and me at peace with the outcome of our crowdfunding campaign when we started the magazine. We knew that he would either swing the door wide open or that he would shut it. Either way, we were successful in God’s eyes, because we were following him, and we had a freedom in it all that the world can’t offer.

Because of the gospel, we have a lasting hope that doesn’t fade the way our earthly successes will. We rejoice, not in our accomplishments, but in Christ’s work on the cross, which gives us the ultimate prize in life: eternity with our great God whom we would otherwise be separated from.

Your book introduction states that you don't believe that there is a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to dreaming. Can you explain what you mean by that?

I think sometimes we pick up a book with the hopes that it will answer all the questions we have in our minds. Books like that give us no room to depend on God nor allow the Holy Spirit to help us process and work out those answers. 

The last thing I want to do is tell a woman to go ahead and chase after the dream that is in her heart on the basis that it’s worthwhile, just because it’s been stuck in her head for a long time. On the other hand, I don’t want to tell her to abandon her dream because it doesn’t fit into a certain “cookie-cutter-Christian-woman” mold. 

Each of us who are in Christ have the Holy Spirit and the ability to ask God for wisdom, take action steps and trust him, whether he closes or opens the door. So, while I do not offer answers to your specific problem, one of my chapters offers clarifying questions to consider whether or not the dream is worth pursuing. 

Can you share an example in your own life where you have laid down, pressed paused and followed a dream?

I provide more details about this in my book, but I laid down the dream of photography when I had my son. It wasn’t an immediate thing, but after the first year of his life, I strongly sensed this that was what God was calling me to do. 

Creating the magazine was a dream planted in my heart in those early years of mothering, but I didn’t sense the Lord’s leading when the idea first came to me, so I pressed pause on it. And then, when the timing was right, I followed it when I started the crowdfunding campaign.