Monday, October 11, 2010

Carol Kent: Between a Rock and a Grace Place

A few years ago when I heard bestselling author and speaker Carol Kent was coming to a women's conference in Maine I had to go. I was excited to hear her because I have taught one of her Bible studies, Secret Longings of the Heart: Overcoming Deep Disappointment and Unfulfilled Expectations, to several groups of women through the years and, in fact, in changed my own life. She is an inspiring author and speaker with great wisdom. And when she shared her heartbreaking story Laying My Isaac Down there wasn't a dry eye in the large room.



In her newest book Between a Rock and a Grace Place Carol continues to share the story of an amazing hope that her family has discovered even in the midst of an extraordinary trial—her son, Jason, a young man who initially had so much promise, is now living out a life sentence for murder in a maximum security prison. Her newest book tells the riveting journey of facing the impassible obstacles of life and discovering the last thing ever expected—the sweet spot of grace.

Carol and her husband, Gene have exhausted all appeals on behalf of their son at both the state and federal levels—humanly speaking, they have run out of options. But despite their hopeless situation, Carol and her husband live a life full of grace. Kent reveals how life’s problems become fruitful affliction where we discover the very best divine surprises, including peace, compassion, freedom, and adventure. Through the Kent’s remarkable ongoing journey, Jason’s riveting letters from behind bars, and true “grace place” stories from the lives of others, Between a Rock and a Grace Place reveals that when seemingly insurmountable challenges crash into our lives, we can be transformed as we discover God at work in ways we never imagined. With vulnerable openness, irrepressible hope, restored joy, and a sense of humor, Carol Kent helps readers to find God’s “grace places” in the middle of their worst moments.







Here is an interview by Carol that I know will inspire you:
 
What are “grace places,” and how can hurting people in need find them?
All of us experience tight spots when life turns out differently from our dream. When we face the overwhelming obstacles of life, we can experience the last thing we ever expect—the sweet spot of grace. Grace places have a variety of forms, but some include:
  • Receiving love when we don’t deserve it
  • Finding safety in the middle of a fearful and uncertain experience
  • Being comforted by friends and family (people who are extensions of God’s love)
  • Experiencing the embrace of God when we have run out of strength and courage
“Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it.” (R.P.C. Hanson)

How important are contentment and gratitude in finding grace and peace? 

My son, Jason, is teaching me that I need to choose contentment and thanksgiving in all things. As an inmate in a maximum-security prison, all of his personal items must fit in one small one-foot-high and one-and a half-feet-deep and two-and-a half feet long steel lockbox. He has learned to live comfortably with very little, which brings him a surprising sense of peace.
When I was visiting him one weekend I asked how he holds on to hope in the middle of a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence. He said, “Mom, I have a gratitude list. Whenever the clouds of depression try to discouragement, I get out a piece of paper and write down everything I have to be thankful for. I’m thankful I have two parents who will be my advocates for as long as they live. The average number of years a lifer gets visits is five years and then no one comes anymore. I’m also thankful I can be a missionary on a compound that houses up to 1,700 men.” I’m learning from Jason that I find contentment when I choose to be thankful and when I invest my time in helping other people.


How has your definition of adventure changed over the years, and why is it important to retain adventure in your life, despite your situation? 

True adventure is seeing the potential of living for things that matter in the middle of your current circumstances. We had the adventure of launching a nonprofit organization that helps to empower our son to facilitate classes by having books and DVD teaching series sent to the prison. We also have the adventure of reaching out to other people who are in crisis, which brings purpose and deep meaning to our lives.

When you received news about Jason’s clemency hearing being denied, how did you respond? 

I wailed like a baby, sobbed, felt angry, hurt, and disappointed in God. Then we saw Jason a day after this devastating news. He was calm and very much at peace. He hugged me as I wept and said, “Mom, this case isn’t about having the best attorney or about having the favor of Florida’s top executive political leaders. If I am ever allowed to walk in freedom in this lifetime, it will be because God miraculously opened a door that was closed.” My son helps me to develop an eternal perspective and that day he comforted me.

Between a Rock and a Grace Place releases 10 years after your son, Jason, was sentenced to life in a maximum security prison and includes excerpts from Jason’s letters. Can you tell us how he’s doing now? 

He has just taken his 8th group of men through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course and he will be facilitating a biblical counseling class on marriage and family this fall. He has a prayer group of twelve inmates who fast and pray for the needs of each other and their families. Prison is a depressing, dark, and sad place, but Jason is living for things that will outlast him.

What advice do you have for those who are stuck between a rock and a grace place? 

In the middle of your own hurt reach out to someone else who needs help worse than you do. When you involve yourself in meeting the needs of others, you discover an unexpected freedom on the inside. Corrie ten Boom once said, “What did you do today that only a Christian would have done?”


Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of Between a Rock and a Grace Place

I would love for you to visit my web site at www.CarolKent.org, browse through the various events and other resources available. You may also join me on my Facebook page, please click here.

 For an opportunity to win a copy of  Between a Rock and a Grace Place please visit:
CSS Blog (please see blog posts for details)
CSS Virtual Blog Tour on Facebook (please see EVENTS pages for details) 

This blog tour was brought to you by http://www.christianspeakerservices.com/

3 comments :

  1. Sounds like a book virtually anyone could learn from. Thank you for bringing Carol's life and writing to light!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's where we - believer's - live, isn't it? Forever wedged there, we get to choose which one to focus upon. Gimme grace over rocks any day!

    Blessings,
    Kathleen

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like a wonderful book. This story really gives perspective to the challenges of everyday life. Thank you, Carla, for sharing it with us.
    Blessings,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete

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