This week I'm giving away THREE copies of Karen Beattie's book, Rock Bottom Blessings. She currently works as writing director for a digital creative agency. Karen lives with her husband and daughter on the north side of the Windy City.
I recently had a chance to ask Karen a few questions about her book:
Margaret: For readers who aren’t familiar with Rock Bottom Blessings, what is the main idea?
Karen: The main idea is that living an abundant life often looks much different than what our society and culture, and even our churches, have led us to believe. We tend to think of abundance as having a lot of material wealth, success, or having things going our way. In our churches, we often think of abundance as “being blessed by God,” but what does that really mean?
Often our ideas of abundance are influenced by consumerism, the prosperity gospel (the idea that God will “bless” us if we do everything right), or other ideas that we have picked up that don’t have anything to do with what Christ meant when he said, “I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”
During a difficult time in my life when my husband and I were going through a financial crisis (like many people were during the recession), and we were unable to adopt a child because I was laid off, I set out to try to work through in my own mind what having an abundant life really means. I discovered that abundance can be found when you think you have nothing materially, or when your dreams are dying.
What were the biggest challenges or struggles during the writing process?
This was my first book, and writing it seemed like a marathon that would never end. I worked on it off and on for two years. I know many books take even longer to write. But just finishing it was a challenge for me—sitting down in a Starbucks every Saturday morning for four hours or so, and writing early in the mornings and late at night. I work fulltime as a writing director at a digital creative agency, so it was difficult to sit in front of a computer during my “off” time when I could have been doing anything else.
Another challenge was to not make the book sound too whiney. I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself—but I wanted to take a straight-eyed look at what was going on, and try to make sense of it. Not to whine or complain, but just to understand and try to encourage other people who may be going through a similar experience.
I really do love the struggle and challenge of writing a book. It felt satisfying and fulfilling to complete the book. “We write to find out what we know,” said one of my writing teachers. I was working out all of these things as I was writing. It helped me to make sense of what was going on in my life, and where God was in it all.
What do you hope will happen in the reader’s heart and mind after they finish with the book?
I hope they will find encouragement, and start to believe that when they are going through a difficult time that there can be resurrection. If you believe in the life, passion, and resurrection of Christ (what Catholics call the paschal mystery), you have hope that something good can come from the most difficult circumstances. The poet Rumi writes, “Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” We try to avoid struggle and loss at all costs, but hard times are inevitable, and we miss out if we don’t try to see where the resurrection is during these difficult times.
What 3 books have most impacted your life and ministry (besides the Bible)?
This is such a difficult question! There are too many books that have influenced me in some way. But these three come to mind:
Everything Belongs, by Richard Rohr
Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
Congratulations to the winners: Debbie, Cindy Adams, Trita Clarke