“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”
Blog Article 40: Email Interview with Christian Author Judy Madden and her book God, Rocky Trails, and the Mountains
Humanity has a history of dwelling on the big philosophical questions of life. Its a foundational thought all of us explore at pivotal points in our life and ultimately shapes the destinies of us all on the path we choose to follow. Is God real? If so, can I speak to Him? Does He speak to me? How can I know Him? Is He even there? Are only a few that come to mind but the list can seem like an endless labyrinth, trapping the mind into corners of internal conversations, which only confuse or lose us further in our questioning. Yet, it’s in these times of honest contemplation that the Lord speaks the loudest. In my life this has been true as well as Christian author Judy Madden.
I had the privileged of meeting Madden at a benefits concert in Redmond, WA, for Destiny House Restoration Center; an organization specializing in human trafficked survivor rehabilitation. By chance (or should we say divine appointment), while browsing the tables displaying trinkets to purchase to help fundraise for the facility, I stumbled over to Madden and became enamored with writings. Fellow authors are always a focus for my blog but are often rare to find, so I immediately wanted to see if Madden was interested in an email interview to help promote her works.
Madden’s book God, Rocky Trails, and the Mountains, describes her life as she encounters the miracles of God in the solitude of mountains of the Pacific Northwest of America. Much like Madden, I too am drawn to the beautiful wild conifer forests of our great state and am planning on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with my wife in the future. In every chapter, Madden infuses her first-person narrative with Biblical passages explained through her trials and tribulations while trekking some of the most remote mountain country on horseback. Her tales of adventure are exciting and exuberant but most importantly of all allow the reader to understand passages of scripture in real life scenarios. Madden’s book acts as a bridge for the reader to understand the character of God as seen in the Bible.
The chapter that most caught my attention was “The Narrow Trail”. Madden illustrates the passage of Matthew 7:13-14 through a recollection of her journey on a scenic trail route in the Norse Peak Wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail. While traveling on her journey Madden becomes lost as she and her horse become stuck upon a narrow trail and must navigate back to her original trail route while getting lost as to which direction to follow. Madden’s words are written in honesty as she wrestles with that conscience pendulum swinging between fear for the worst and trusting the Lord.
Barry Irwin Brophy: For those who may not know about you, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started writing?
Judy Madden: Well, I was raised a daddy’s girl by a Seattle Fire Chief who put a bit of the tomboy into me. I loved horses and the outdoor adventure. I loved to journal and got good grades in creative writing in high school.
I think I always knew I could write better than I could talk. Although our family boated, clammed, fished, and hiked, I loved experiencing the ambiance of the outdoors alone, climbed trees, rode fast horses, and hiked until I was lost and figured my way out. In Seattle, I rode my bike miles, as long as I was home when the street lights came on.
My mother was an artist. I painted and did landscape photography anything creative…God inspired the book, God, Rocky Trails & the Mountains, 14 years of the miraculous packing in with horses, against a backdrop of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. After 20,000 miles in the Cascades, often alone I finally had something to say.
Barry Irwin Brophy: How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?
Judy Madden: I was raised Catholic and nobody led me to the Lord. I’d never heard the word “born again”.
The year was 1971. At a desperate time of life, God saved me in a sovereign move of God. When He came into my bedroom, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ to do with it what He wanted because I didn’t want my life anymore. I had six small children to care for and my military husband in Vietnam didn’t want me anymore.
We were stationed in Long Beach, California, 1,000 miles from home in Seattle. Catholics did not believe in divorce, yet my husband of thirteen years and father of our six children did not want me on the dock to meet the ship when he returned from Vietnam in six months. I felt I was a failure as a wife, even though I’d done my best. He was alcoholic, but I loved him and believed in him; wonderful when sober, but terrible when drunk. I couldn’t get him to stay sober.
Now he didn’t want me. At age 32, sobbing, lost, alone in my room, I crumbled on the floor before God to “Take my life and do with it what you want, because I don’t want it any more.” Nothing I’d done to help had worked: I’d never missed a Catholic Mass in 32 years, yet had never heard the words, “born again.” I had six children all in the same grade school to care for and could not go home to Seattle shamed as a divorced Catholic and welfare mother.
At that moment, Jesus Christ came into my room and came INTO me! My room filled with a light. I felt an overwhelming desire to worship in a sense of love and peace I had never felt before and got up off that floor a different person. I was in love and I had a heart of love. I knew I WAS DIFFERENT. I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO ME. I knew everything would be OK.
Barry Irwin Brophy: Tell us a bit about your books? Any other projects you’re currently working on?
Judy Madden: God, Rocky Trails and the Mountains is my first book, written to engender a trust in the faithfulness of God towards us. Even when I didn’t know His Word, He performed a miracle in me. Later, he called me to a faith-based ministry and demonstrated his Word to me in order to save my “chickenbutt” in which I was a spectator! The first story is how giant angles saved my packhorse when she fell off a 300 foot cliff. The second, how He healed me when I was bucked off, crippled for a year, and couldn’t walk due to a bad wreck, during which I learned the mechanics of the Word-driven-blood-bought Word of God. And in another, He rolled an impending snowstorm back before my eyes, so I would not be trapped in high country.
All was done to demonstrate His faithfulness to the Word, in his love and protection of us. We are not alone through Jesus Christ. Each chapter begins with the scripture, walks out the adventure, and ends with the principles learned.
I Illustrated with forty full color photos, many wall mountable quality of the spectacular mountainous areas traveled through, that place the reader in the action.
My next book is Wagons Ho! about a 260 mile two week covered wagon train across Washington State that takes 150 people with them every year. Written through the eyes of participants, pioneer families who host us, and founders, of which I was a Trail Boss for eighteen years; I want to capture the history and adventures that the pioneering spirit engenders…also with my own photos.
Barry Irwin Brophy: How has God been using the your books to spread His Gospel message? Any stories?
Judy Madden: My book in high mountains is too new yet to tell, but the reviews on Amazon are encouraging. One woman told me God impacted her with, “That’s what YOU need to do to get unstuck!” when she read “My worst Fears Faced.” My horse worked her way across a landslide on a steep narrow trail, every foot rolled on the rock, as I stared down her neck over a cliff at the river 1,000 foot below. The fear that I would die, lied to me. “God came that you might have life, and life in abundance”. I live! John 10 [paraphrased]
Barry Irwin Brophy: What do you think are the biggest obstacles within the Christian Church institution in the United States? How can they change to be more effective in preaching the Gospel?
Judy Madden: The unity of Christians and love of God that brings trust and faith are the biggest obstacles. God loves people, in every walk, every dark hole, every sin. We need to take the “Christianese” out of the way we talk to people and speak in every day language. We pray for us to have love of God, so a sanctimonious attitude has to go in favor of, “There, but for the grace of God, go, I.” We need to get faith working to go into the dark with the light of the Gospel no matter what the cost, and for God to put the “want to” there.
Pastors can be obstacles, if they only build their own kingdom based on their own theology. They disallow effective ministers for the sake of denomination because they are not members. An evangelist, prophet, teacher, holy man or woman from Africa or South America or other nations may be more experienced in areas we are not, like the supernatural. They are not welcome if limited by denominational boundaries. They can’t even get a foot in the door with an invitation by referral from a known and accredited member.
Americans don’t have the right to limit what God wants to do! We don’t have the spiritual depth of experience they have. We have to allow God’s reality in His Body to minister and put aside doctrines that limit God, in favor of religion. What is needed is the demonstrated word of God to perform, so we can honestly say, “this is how He did it, for God watches over His word to perform it”, and be TRUE witnesses.
Further evaluation is needed in how we obtain the truth. Revelation in illumination of the truth and depth of the Word can be revealed only by true witnesses to what God has done. We can still be “One in the Spirit” as we learn together. “Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit”, says the Lord [Zechariah 4:6 paraphrased]. “The letter of the law killeth, but the Spirit brings life!” [2nd Corinthians 3:6]
Barry Irwin Brophy: In Washington state, our area is experiencing quite a Christian renaissance revival. How do you think your books and writings will influence the coming revival in the United States? Globally?
Judy Madden: My book supports the mechanics of faith, demonstrates miracles, ministers hope that does not disappoint us, and the love of God that endures. I hope this book lights the fires of inspiration to let our God out of the box, in a demonstration of the Word of God in power to those who dare to believe, with a growth in faith and trust for your own situations and endeavors. We need to take the Word of God as it stands, in its simplicity, and integrity to hear and obey, do what He says to do and we will see wonders and miracles in our own lives, through the Word-spoken, blood bought, power of God through Jesus Christ! And be healed! We need to get healed. Hurting people hurt others, and physical disabilities limit us.
Barry Irwin Brophy: What advice would you like to give to future Christian writers, authors, and poets just getting started? Please provide any helpful tips or painful lessons of what not to do.
Judy Madden: It took me two years to write this book with events that took place over fourteen years. Before ever starting anything, I would fast and pray, to hear the Lord, get His inspired direction of approach and His heart for what He wants to do. Every page must have integrity. Every page must be prayed over for His will in content, order, inspiration, and truth, to obtain a strong witness of the Spirit that it is done. He will bring inspired memories, dreams, visions, truth, people, everything you need. It is HIS.
I got really frustrated, beating my head against the wall with my publisher. Try to not get upset when it takes longer than expected. It will. A dedicated work belongs to Him; it is His ministry, not your own. The timing is His. The ministry is His. He will see it through. You just stay focused. I spent eight to ten hours a day until my computer got so hot my lap burned, and until I couldn’t see straight. I was a 75 year old woman obsessed. I’d wake up in the morning with it, live it all day, and go to bed at night with it.
I got stuck. And couldn’t write. I do due diligence with research and organization, editing, etcetera. I still needed outside opinions and editing. The Lord confirmed this as others spoke. Sometimes two heads are better than one. He brought the ones I needed into view.
I looked for an editor, just a bit. I had a list of wants: I wanted someone close, I needed a Christian, I wanted a horseman, and a mountain lover who understood the rigors and language of the life. I prayed, and Googled for an editor in my hometown and got 3.8 out of the 4. Jack’s name jumped out. He was a pastor, horseman, and mountain rider, and fit all criteria…except he wasn’t next to the Cascades in Washington, but lived next to the Rockies in Colorado! BUT, coming to Seattle area to visit his aunt! When I was looking for a few professional photos of the roadless North Cascades, again, the Lord came through. I prayed for guidance, and was drawn to one photographer whose work gave me goose bumps. He turned out to be an amateur who wanted to go pro, and was looking for a break. His photos are featured in a North Cascades brochure. Andy Porter GAVE me his photos, just for the exposure. This was grace and favor from God.
The front cover of myself on horseback with Mt. Stuart was taken by a friend, drawn out of my own photo collection. For the back cover photo, my editor advised me to pay a professional to do a recent photo. Good advice. However, we do OK ourselves. I was on the Wagon Train out in the middle of Washington. I asked my riding friend Robin, who took the front cover if she would take my picture for the back. She glanced at the light and said, “Let’s do it now,” and took it with her simple Kodak. The Lord provided again.
Formatting was tough. After I struggled, my editor did it to publisher standards for me, but I learned to format, and just leave it there, and IMPORTANT: write in that format.
I had to learn to make old photos photo-ready. They had to be resized: upsized, downsized, saturation, D.P.I., and clarity. All these things took time on my own software. I Googled to learn how to do it and people referred others who could help me. A friend had a hidden past in publishing I didn’t know about and helped me with my questions.
The publisher required a great amount of patience. They didn’t answer me in a timely way. I had to get to them three times for every answer I got and then it wasn’t fully answered and had to be dissected and redirected back to them. I would advise, if you have a complicated format as I did, that you asked to be bumped up to the supervisor.
It could be that God is using you as a catalyst and encourager with the publisher. This is a good time for the fruit of the spirit to be tested. You don’t know the frustration of the workers, how the enemy is at work to divert, distract, circumvent and stop the will of God in the work He has given you to do. They are Christians, too, with a Christian publishing house.
Stay focused. Keep the vision. Don’t let them short-cut your work in order to expedite theirs. It took me six submissions of photography and a month, insisting on full page work, they didn’t do, and then getting them to correct their own errors of incorrect titles under the photos, three times. I didn’t like what they did with my photo on the cover. It was 6 months before I found a graphic artist and fired the publisher’s effort.
Keep perspective in that there are 300,000 books published every year, and the folks who work at the publisher are overworked and underpaid, so they don’t pay much attention to you. However, the cream will rise to the top. It belongs to the Lord. Having done all, to stand.
If I had to do it over, I wouldn’t go with so many color photos. They raised the cost of each book to $11.00 including shipping in boxes of 51 for a total of over $500. The publisher wanted to retail the book at $18.99 but nobody wanted to pay that much, especially for an unknown author no matter HOW many color photos there are. I can sell it for only $15.50, so I’m not making much. The publisher is making more than I am, and I did the work!
Now, you’ve got your books. The fun starts! Marketing and networking. The Social Media, Amazon, sites like Barry’s Creative Christian Moments.
Expect to do a lot of marketing and invest in marketing materials: Before you even get your books, get a blog, webpage, business cards, book marks, post cards, thank you notes, 6 foot table and cloth, banners, sandwich board, posters, “Local author, Book signing” with location. So far, I had over $4,000 into it.
I used the front cover photo which depicts myself on a great palomino horse in front of a great mountain: Stewart Peak for my sandwich board. Beat the pavement, visit local stores, and introduce yourself, and leave them information how it can be a mutual promotion for a Book Signing. Gain credibility. Get to know your printer. I plastered the area with posters a week before. Consideration of the type of business you are helping, to benefit them, and stay out of their way while they do business. Then, I send a thank you note afterwards.
They’re not obligated to help you. The buyers were not lined up for me, but for the business. I found I sell as much in person, as gets ordered through Amazon. Ten books would be a good day. I give away business cards and books to “seed”for the increase. I’ve given books to pastors, leaders, and every store owner that helps me, or needy person.
I carry a few with me in a special bag everywhere I go. You are now joined at the hip with your book. It is your baby; don’t leave them in the car overnight. The dampness curls the covers. The Elite Package with Xulon Press, cost $4,000 but has national exposure and book shows. I think I could go with $1,000 and get the same job done with all the legalities, from another publisher, and without color pictures. It’s going to be a long time before I make anything, and Xulon really isn’t helping sales much.
Barry Irwin Brophy: I’ve encountered many struggling Christian writer’s who’ve just giving up on their calling either through circumstance, unmet expectations, or just downright hardships that prevent them for continuing in their callings. These guys and girls are really in the fire right now and have been severely burned. If you were speaking with them one on one what encouraging words would you say to them?
Judy Madden: Don’t let your “self” get in the way. Keep the vision. If it was from the Lord, look to Him, He is worth it, it is up to Him. Trust and obey is the key. Then wait on God.
Barry Irwin Brophy: Any helpful tips or practical disciplines that you have learned in your walk with Christ that younger followers could benefit from?
Judy Madden: The work IS my work. Just like going to a job. Stick with a time alone. Focus, focus, focus, keep your eyes on the Lord. He is the author and finisher of your faith. There is more to this than just getting a book out. It is about you. The key word is LET. LET our God get a lot of mileage out of this, starting with YOU; building stick-to-it-ness, building character, getting you tough, able to stand in criticism, and rejection, with love.
The way of faith: Know first of all that the book is His will, we know that He heareth us, and that He will do it. Conditions are met. It is cast in stone, and the wheels of heaven are in motion:
Mark 11:22 – Have faith OF God (faith IN God, mistranslated) Do it like He does it.
Mark 11:23 – Speak to the mountain
Mark 11:24 – Believe you have already received it and you will. (past tense say thank you)
Mark 11:25 – When you stand praying, forgive (that is love of God. Do it anyway, even if you don’t feel like it, say it, this is tied to receiving from Him) God helps.
Mark 11:26 – If you do not forgive, you won’t be forgiven.
Stay focused. Wait on the Lord. Believe, receive, trust and obey. He will do it, He is faithful.
Barry Irwin Brophy’s Closing Thoughts
Madden is a model for the younger generation on practising the presence of the Lord. She possesses such a heart to know the Lord and models her quiet times off of Jesus by her examples of seeking God through solitude. Her actions echo the great patriarchs and desert fathers of the past whom spent time in solitary to understand the Lord; only then to arise and share the Gospel message with active demonstrations of the Holy Spirit through healing. The conclusive meat of the conversation between Madden and myself was simple: seek God, remain pure in your calling, and He’ll take care of the rest. This concept seems so simple to Christians, yet how many times do we find ourselves in disobedience of walking this faith journey out through actions. Me included!
But to paraphrase Madden’s words, sometimes what is most important is the process of obedience by which one walks out their command from the Lord. In our culture that trumpets the uniform belief of rebelling against authority, the process of obedience to the authority of God is met with staunch opposition even from within the Christian community. But walking out obedience to God changes the deep places within our souls. We are molded more and more into the likeness of Christ represented in our changed actions, thinking, emotional responses, and our ability to trust the Lord in the most dire of circumstances. The Christian discipline of obedience denies our fleshly selves and allows us to bear our own crosses much in the model of Christ Himself (Matthew 16:24). Through these actions, we truly become fulfillers of the word “Christian” translated as “little Christ” where we are ambassadors of Him through our actions demonstrating the Gospel message.
How can you best support Madden? Host her at your next ministry event, schedule a book signing, or allow her to share her heart about what God has done in her life with you or an audience. Purchase a copy of her book and share it with a friend who may be interested. But most importantly join her in the prayer movement for revival across this nation. If you are seeking a place of quiet, solitude, and a chance to connect with the Lord, why not visit the Shiloh Prayer Fasting Ranch and see the Holy Spirit passionately ignite a deeper fire in your walk with Christ! When revival breaks out in this state, it will be a result of well prepared ground toiled by men and women, like Madden, who have sought the Lord in the secret place illustrated in Matthew 6:5-6.
Judy Madden’s Pages
Personal Website: http://shilohprayerfastingranch.com
Xulon Press: http://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781498415057&HC_ISBN=
Madden, Judy, email message to author, March 7, 2015.
Madden, Judy. God, Rocky Trails, and the Mountains. United States of America: Xulon Press, 2014.
Xulon Press book God, Rocky Trails & the Mountains | Judy Madden, YouTube, 1:15, posted by Xulon Press, November 3, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuYYTliUn5Q (accessed March 16, 2015)