Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marie Timm, author of Trust: What A Horse Taught Me About God. Marie is a lovely woman and a fine writer. She grew up as a horse-crazy preacher’s kid and took up creative writing in high school. A degree in Horticultural Therapy preceded marriage and family, which were her main focus for 25 years. In 2001 she began writing again, and when she acquired a difficult horse in 2006, the tremendous lessons she learned through working with him became the foundation of her book. She currently lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and three horses, and attends Mission Church.
Q: Marie, thank you so much for joining us for this interview! I really loved your book, Trust: What A Horse Taught Me About God (click to see my review). I’m so happy to have you for my first artist interview!
A: Your review of the book was spot-on and I am so delighted to be discussing it with you now!
Q: Let’s get right to it, then! In the book, you talk a lot about fear and trust. Why do you think these two issues are so pivotal (and difficult) for Christians?
A: We believe in Someone we cannot see with our physical eyes or hear with our physical ears though a few in recorded Biblical history actually have had that privilege. We do however, see and hear all the stuff happening around us. If we do not as Christians keep our minds focused where it belongs on God’s perspective, we quickly succumb to fear and flight/fight responses. This takes training in God’s Word and the application of His Truths to our lives. It is not easy. But it is doable. We have to choose to trust Him. When we do that and come through on the other side of a predicament, we should not only breathe a sigh of relief but our trust depository should be a little fuller the next trial around the corner. This is the ideal. We are individuals on our unique journey with Jesus, following His example of trust in God. It is Faith which the Bible describes as “the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”
Q. What does training in God’s Word look like to you?
A. Bible studies with others, attending church and being under a Pastor/Shepherd who loves to teach the Word of God and stays centered on it, daily personal reading of the Word—I have been through the One Year Bible 14 times now, listening to great Bible leaders online. In short, being a student of the Word! “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for correction, for reproof and for training in righteousness that the man of God will be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16,17 (ISV)
Q: I love the way you represented the communication between you and God through letters back and forth. Do you think the communication between horse and rider is itself a picture of spiritual communication?
A: It is most definitely a well -defined picture of spiritual communication. I think God made the horse so unique in its purpose both as a physical being to carry our burdens through the centuries and also to show us how to master fear and charge into battle in spite of fear. There is most definitely a two-way “conversation” between horse and rider, mostly without words. It is the subtle, constant back and forth exchange of thought and tension and release in the body of both horse and rider. A noise is heard, imperceptible by the rider but picked up by the much better tuned ear of the horse. He stops, alert and looks toward the sound. A smart rider will also listen and look but also will take that moment to breathe and relax his/her body. Usually it is nothing to be concerned about and they ride on. But there is most certainly constant 2-way communication going on. This is what God wants with us. Without it we soon become either overly fearful of our life circumstances or impossibly hardened to His voice warning us of the dangers ahead. We need to learn to listen to Him and so recognize His gentle but firm voice. There are many pitfalls we would avoid, traps we would not fall into and joyful rewards of peace we could gain if we sought Him and His ways. Therefore, the way of horse and rider becoming as one unit, moving and reacting smoothly together is a beautiful picture of God and man. Just check out the many videos of a rider on a horse without bridle or saddle. Their movements are as one body and mind and spirit; It is a picture that makes the tears well up from a deep place in our souls because that is the magnificent unity we all crave to have with God.
Q: Your ‘conversations’ with God in this book are very direct and natural. What kinds of things happened in reality that inspired them?
A: Each chapter title came to me as I worked progressively with Paladin through the years and his various trainers. Each trainer was presented to me as I asked the Lord what to do next. I learned to recognize His voice as so very “natural.” In fact, it is so easy to hear Him if we really want to that I wonder why anyone would avoid Him.
The first instance of hearing that Voice was when it all started as recorded in the introduction to the book. His Voice was startling, and in that instance was extremely revealing of who I was inside my soul. Though it was like a lightening bolt it was at the same instant so very, very loving in its convicting light. That is how you know it is Him—the great Love that permeates the disciplining truth. That is why the key scripture verse for the book is: “There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out all fear.” I John 4:18
Later on I would have many “aha” moments when the trainer said something and it was “quickened” to my spirit as something in me that needed work also. For instance, the Lord pointed out to me how I rush around all the time and don’t really enjoy the moment. With a horse if you do that, he will just get nervous. I learned a lot about staying in the moment. I had to learn patience and a soft, unhurried demeanor. That is so not like me. God is out to change us for our own good and the good of others we have influence with.
There were many such moments that formed each chapter. One of the most pivotal is described in chapter nine: Broken, Not Wounded. It was a place in Paladin’s training where I could have sold him and gone on to another horse or no horse. He and I had both come to a crossroad. It was a major turning point. God gave me a choice. When I reached out and received that lead rope in my hand as described in chapter 10, Coming Home, there was an invisible yet profound connection from Paladin’s heart to mine-- for the first time in his training. It was electrifying. That is what God wants with us.
Q: What would you say is the number one lesson you learned through all of this?
A: God really does love us. He is more than capable of remolding us if we will let Him. He is full of grace and mercy when we rail against Him even though it is not His fault or doing when we mess our lives up. So, on the side of Trust, He is Trustworthy. On the side of fear, most of it is a trumped up tactic of Satan to wear us out and most is truly False Evidence Appearing Real. I find now that when I pause in an uncertain or fearful situation and ask the Holy Spirit about it first, He is very quick to give me peace and wisdom. Then, I am not just reacting but counteracting. Guess that is a long winded “one lesson” learned answer but it is hard to condense.
Q: What made you decide to undertake this book project?
A: I was compelled by God’s Spirit to share how accessible He is at all times and no matter where you find yourself in life. He knows exactly where and who you are. He knew what avenue to speak to me on: Horses. I was gently prodded each day to go to my desk and computer to write down the lessons I was learning through the horse training. Did I go? Well, sometimes! Finally it was complete. Jesus is the Friend He says He is. Why would anyone ignore a friend? But we Christians do. He is not just a Savior up in heaven, although that is enough. He is with us. He is in us. He is fun to be with. You can have a conversation.
Q: Tell us about your writing process.
A: Slow!! I had never undertaken a book writing project. The title was actually given to me before I started to write, so I knew I had a book already—I just had to start, which is the hardest part. I argued with God a little every day because I could not figure out what format to put it in. Allegory? Non-fiction? Poetry? Fiction based on the principles I learned? Non-fiction was my least favorite as I do not like to write expository pieces. Never did. It had to be somewhat poetic. I wanted the words and the chapters to take on a picture, like poetry does-- An image of the flow of communication between myself and my horse and God. So I literally wrestled with it for about a year! Then one day I was working out on a stationary bicycle in the dead of winter, praying about it and the idea formed in my mind to write it in letter form. I thought about writing to one of my friends who had mentored me spiritually when I heard in my spirit—“write to Me.” After that, the outline came and then the chapter titles. And the first chapter begins with a little poem!
I still was unfaithful to go to my desk EVERY day. Good thing the Lord is patient. I likely got there once a week! He just urged and prodded a little and so I went. I was afraid of an unhappy ending to the book because I wrote it as the training was actually happening and as the reader can see, it was an uphill battle most of the time and frustrating to keep going with Mr. P. One thing that really helped me was the use of music while I wrote. It literally changed the atmosphere of my writing room. I used 3 CDs over and over. One is called The Healing by Tom Davis, Amberroseministries.com. Another is The Breath of God by Chuck Milhuff, 700 Promises From the Word of God, and the third one was some music put together by good friends in the healing ministry which they titled soaking music. “God inhabits the prayers of his people,” so having the Word of God and the praises of God playing gently in the background brought the presence of God into the book.
So the routine was: Go upstairs at the same time of day for the most part, sit down, turn on the CD player, close my eyes and invite the Holy Spirit to come, please help me write what He wanted written. Then I would start, using my notes and chapter titles to form the book. There were many hours of revisions also and getting permissions for quotes, etc. My greatest concern was that I never put my words in Jesus’ responses to me but that he would be pleased with everything said. He was speaking through me and I never took that lightly.
Q: What was the publishing process like?
A: It was frustrating, as the self-publishing process can be, especially for a first time author. I went to Westbow Press because they are a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers and I wanted my book in the hands of a Christian operative. They were very kind and not pushy but I still had to remind them I needed some hand-holding to walk me through it. The first person I worked with there was not very helpful and left the company. After that I received excellent assistance from my next coordinator. I asked for illustrators through my facebook friends and linked up with Jennifer who did the black and white sketches inside the book. She is an avid horsewoman, too. She absolutely nailed the expression of fear and confusion and insanity on P’s face in the first illustration. Also early on, before I signed with the publisher, I asked for some input from a Christian Editors group. They critiqued my first chapter and let me know it was a subject that could make a go of it. After that I enlisted friends and family to listen to some of it as I read it to them and finally asked my good friend Pam, who used to be an editor of short articles, if she would do the grammatical editing for me. Pam knew all the struggle I had been going through with Paladin. The Scripture verses all had to be documented and who loves the Word more than your mom, Penny? She did all of that work gratis! Finally I had to choose a cover. Westbow would do one for me or I could send them one. My neighbor at the time, Deb, an artist and rancher, had given me a watercolor of a snapshot of Paladin and me on a dusty ride we went on with her. This was 2 years before the book came out. I knew that God wanted me to use it. Deb is now a born again believer as well, not because of my book but because God sought her out right where she was at! This is what He does!
After some tweaking and final editing of everything, I was ready to sign the book off and it would go immediately into production. Again, I dragged my feet some. It is a little scary to let your work actually go into print for all the world to see. What if no one likes it? But that is worrying about me, not what God wants. I was about to push the send button to the publisher for final release when my dog, Trackker took ill. I spent time with him, facing surgery for a spleen tumor that only had a 30% success rate. The day of the surgery I went out first thing in the morning to the garage to greet him. He struggled to get up and as he walked toward me he collapsed and let out a cry. I gathered him into my arms and held him as he passed away. He was so much a part of my life and accompanied me on so many rides on Paladin. That was May 27th, 2014 and that was the day I pushed the Send button in honor of my faithful dog who loved Paladin as much as I did.
Q: The book is very much about what you learned through your experiences with your horse, Mr. Paladin. What have you learned through your experiences writing the book?
A: Great peace would come into me when I would be obedient to sit down and write. Sometimes I wondered, in fact many times, if it was just me trying to understand my life better or if it was truly God wanting it written. It is not up to me whether the book is a success by the world’s standard or not. It is full of God’s Word and “His Word never returns void.”
As far as the experiences with Paladin, I have learned to be quieter, softer and gentler with all living things, including people! I have learned that most of the time when someone lashes out in anger they are just afraid. I have learned to use the same pressure and release with others that I do with my horse. There are a lot of beat up people out there who are on the defensive all the time and need to know someone cares, and especially that Jesus cares about them. I have learned to be more patient with myself and others. And I am finally learning to meet challenges and scary situations in my life in a more thoughtful way as most of it is false evidence appearing real. I ask the Lord first about it and what are WE to do with the thing that is manifesting in my path, instead of getting in fear and feeling hopelessly a victim.
Q: In a previous post, I talked about how God infuses our work with His power, causing it to reach people. How have you seen God use your book so far?
A: One of the first people to review my draft copy said she was greatly helped to heal from past abuse. One chapter in particular gave her a new perspective and hope. Others have told me they are trusting God more now that they have read the book. Tears almost always flow when the book is read and that is when healing can start; old hardened wounds soften and the Love of Jesus for them is manifested. People that don’t even have horse experience are being touched.
Q: Now that it’s published, what do you hope for this book?
A: My greatest hope is that many, many people will read the book and commit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and go on the greatest adventure with Him they could ever imagine; the plan for their lives was created before time even began. I also hope “church people” will stop just talking ABOUT Jesus and start talking TO Him and listening to Him and allow His sweet friendship to be experienced. What an honor it is to be invited to commune with the King! He walked and talked with Adam and Eve and He bought back that intimate relationship on the cross for us! He is Savior, Lord and Friend. And I also hope many will be reached who have once believed in Christ but life and its unruly behavior have made them lose their way and become cynical.
Q: What kinds of things are you praying for right now that you’d like to share? What’s been on your heart?
A: I have a huge burden for America and how we as a people have lost the fear and admonition of the Lord. There are at least two generations who have never heard even one Scripture verse but still they search for peace in their lives and try to find it in every other way but Christ.
I also am praying for the Church of Jesus Christ—she is the Bride of Christ and there are so many divisions concerning doctrines and this and that. We must become one in God’s Spirit. I have a great urgency in praying for the Church.
Q: Any final remarks?
A: Thank you for this opportunity to answer these questions as it made me clarify why I wrote the book and now I can more readily answer if others want to interview me!
Q: Marie, thank you again so much for your time, and for writing this book in the first place.
If you’re interested in Trust: What A Horse Taught Me About God (and you should be), you can buy it online through Amazon or Westbow Press, but Marie would like to invite you to purchase the book directly from her at the discounted price of $10, with $2 shipping. Information provided below.
Amazon.com: Trust: What A Horse Taught Me About God
Westbowpress.com ISBN 978-1-4908-3140-4
Marie Timm firstname.lastname@example.org
|Marie Timm with Mr. Paladin.|