An Interview With Bill Carlson – 1
An Encouragement Journey Book 1
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I’ve been writing since 2007. I started writing “Encouragements” and sent them by email twice each month, posted on a blog, and put them on Facebook and Linked In. I didn’t put some of these into book form until 2014. I choose 52 of the early Encouragements, updated them, and formatted them for a book, and printed it first as an eBook, then as a paperback. I wrote 200 Encouragements . http://bit.ly/AEJhome. I now write a blog about the 1st Amendment http://bit.ly/FreedomHome
Q: Why are your books short?
A: First, these days people have short attention spans. Most people are too impatient or too busy to read a “normal” book. The normal book becomes a daunting undertaking. The competition for a limited amount of time and money is fierce. Because my books are short, a person invests little time or money to find out if they like what I write and how I write. I’m in the forefront of a trend. Normal-sized books will slowly go the way of newspapers. I present it as a series of four short books, and as a normal-sized book. It can also be purchased as an eBook for a Kindle or similar electronic media. Second, the Study Guide is designed to be completed in seven weeks. The size is limited but the subject matter is huge.
Q: What do you want to accomplish with AEJ?
A: My goal is to lift up heads that are weighed down with unnecessary or burdensome concerns. Life is often difficult and too many perceive it as unfair. I want to transform the way that many think. I know what it means to be dealt a raw hand in life. I choose how I’m going to respond to a bad deal. I can feel sorry for myself, and wallow in self-pity, driving other people away. Or, I can decide that my life still has meaning and purpose, drawing others to me. It’s seeing a glass as half-empty or half-full. The choice is mine. I refuse to be invisible or thrown away as worthless. I choose to live in the light, and to shun darkness.
My other goal is to change the way people see God. Too often God is seen as harsh and cold rather than loving and full of grace. I want people to know that God thinks highly of them, enjoys being with them, and genuinely likes them. I want people to embrace goodness because God is good. You cannot earn your way to heaven by doing good deeds. Salvation and Heaven are free gifts from the good God who loves you.
Q: Why do you use pictures and quotes?
A: The pictures do two things: (1) There is a large amount of competition for people’s attention, and this is one way to match or exceed what competitors do, and (2) the quotes are authoritative and show the beliefs of a wide cross-section of Christianity. They show that many Christian leaders believe the same things I write.
Q: What is the prognosis for your recovery?
A: I pedal a stationary bike and do other exercises nearly every day plus I work out weekly at physical therapy. All of this helps, but I remain disabled. Doctors cannot determine what has caused my trouble. Without a conclusive determination of the cause, they cannot give me a solution. I remain dependent upon God to heal me. If He decides to restore my abilities, He may use doctors or a miracle. I’m certainly open to either way. But I’m also open to remaining disabled. I don’t like the limitations of being disabled, but I’m content with my condition and trust God to do what is best. God said that He would make good to come out of any circumstance (Romans 8:28).
Q: What have you learned from being disabled?
A: I’ve learned several things, but the main one is to trust God even when you don’t understand what He is doing or why. Proverbs 3:5 says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” In Job 1:21, Job sets an example for us: “. . . The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” I don’t understand what God intends to accomplish through my disability, or why I am so limited. But I trust that this is all for the best. It took me a while to come to think this way. I’m grateful that God is patient.
Q: How has your disability affected your marriage and family?
A: As you can imagine, the changes needed to accommodate me are quite dramatic. There are many things that I can no longer do, or no longer go to. Many of the simple tasks that became second nature I can no longer do. Like taking out the trash, I cannot do it anymore so my wife is now doing it. I used to pump all of the gas whether I was driving a car or not, but now I can no longer pump gas. Again, my wife is now doing this job. Some of the things that I used to enjoy I can no longer do. I used to enjoy gardening, but I am housebound today. I used to fly places alone, but I can no longer do this. I need someone to travel with me. I cannot drive so I need someone to drive me places or my wife is now driving me. My children are all grown and married with families of their own. My wheelchair and speech difficulties make it intimidating for most of my grandchildren. I wish it was otherwise, but I have adjusted my expectations.
Q: Scripture says “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV). What do you do to fulfill this command?
A: This is a scriptural difficulty for me. I want to fulfill this verse, but I cannot. I depend upon the grace of God. He knows my circumstances and limitations. I can produce some income but I have difficulty doing enough to provide for my family. I like to eat so I’m willing to work.
Q: What do you do today to encourage others?
A: Because people have difficulty understanding what I say, I do not even try to speak or encourage with my voice. I encourage others through writing in three ways: 1) I wrote 200 Encouragements that I sent out twice a month, 2) I use books like An Encouragement Journey, and 3) I send birthday eC
ards with a message on each one. With four children and twelve grandchildren I’m busy with this every month.