An Author Interview with Kate Motaung {Book Club}

a place to land

You have already heard from Kate Mataung, who shared last month on the theme of guilt. I’m excited for you all to get to know her more and find out some of the back story for her book A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging. Don’t miss out on our giveaway at the end as well!

Kate, thank you so much for joining us in Book Club this week! We’d love to get to know you a bit more.

I majored in theology and cross-cultural work at Bible college. When I was 21, I moved to Cape Town, South Africa for what I thought would be one semester of volunteer work. I ended up meeting my husband there, and five months turned into ten and a half years. My husband is South African and all three of our kids were born in South Africa. We moved to Michigan in 2013 for our kids to experience American culture and get to know my side of the family. Our hope is to go back to South Africa long-term after our kids finish school.

Can you share with us about the inspiration and process of writing A Place to Land?

When my mom was sick with terminal cancer in Michigan while I was living in Cape Town, I started writing to process my emotions. At the time, I had no intentions of sharing what I wrote – it was purely for myself. Then after a while I branched out and started writing articles for various online and print publications. The more I wrote, the more I realized a common theme that kept appearing in much of my work—the theme of home, and specifically the theme of heaven as home for the believer in Christ. Eventually I decided to compile all of my writing that related to the theme of home to see if I could turn it into a book.

Then in 2014, I read a memoir called Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker. I was so moved by the beauty of the writing and how powerfully the author was able to communicate truth through story. I ended up deciding to re-write my own book as a memoir, and I think it has become much more powerful in its current form than it would have been if I had kept it as a straight nonfiction book.

Who should read this book, and what do you hope they glean from it?

I wrote the book for anyone who has ever wondered, “Where is my home?” It’s for anyone who has wrestled with suffering and hardship and wondered if God is still present and good. It’s for anyone who has longed to find a place of belonging in this life but continues to feel like an outsider looking in.

A Place to Land is a heavy book, but my prayer is that readers will gain an increased longing to spend eternity with God, that they would find hope in Christ in the midst of suffering and grief, and that they would be reminded that this world is not our home.

How did the writing of this book impact your own life?

It was definitely a sanctifying process in so many ways! One surprising benefit was that God used the writing process in a therapeutic way with regard to my grief over my mom’s death. I only really noticed it after the book was published, but I’ve found that the sharp edges of my grief have been softened through the process of writing this story. Another way He used the writing process was to increase my own longing for eternity with Him, and to continue to challenge me toward living with an eternal perspective in this life.

We can’t let you go without getting a few book recommendations! What are you reading currently, and what are some of your favorites?

The one book that I have gone back to again and again is called Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. What am I currently reading? I’m afraid I’m one of those people who has multiple books going at once. I’m currently in the middle of Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack by Alia Joy, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible by Shannon Popkin, and Love Letters to Writers: Encouragement, Accountability, and Truth-Telling by Andi Cumbo-Floyd. I just finished a beautiful collection called His Testimonies, My Heritage: Women of Color on the Word of God edited by Kristie Anyabwile.

Thank you, Kate, for sharing with us!!

Be sure to follow Kate on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter! You can also check out her website: https://katemotaung.com/.

Okay, over to you, friends! What resonates with you about Kate’s story and the themes of her book? What questions do you have for her?

Comment on this post by Sunday, May 19th with your thoughts or question, and be entered to win one of two copies of her book, A Place to Land!

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Next week we will start our discussion of the novella, The Uncommon Reader! We’ll divide the book up in to two sections, reading pages 3-60 (in both Kindle and print versions) and discussing on May 21, and pages 60 (from the section starting with the line “Meanwhile the grand visitors…”) to the end and discussing on May 28.

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Are you preparing to return to your passport country after serving on the field? Are you in the midst of settling in to a new normal? Our Re-entry Kit is designed just for you! The kit includes a live class on May 22nd, hosted by Danielle Wheeler and Sarah Hilkemann, as well as access to a private Facebook community to help you process your re-entry journey, and a timed email series that shows up right in your inbox with tips and encouragement. Check out the re-entry toolkit by clicking on the button to learn more!

20 Comments

  1. DENISE JOHNSON May 13, 2019

    I can really relate to Katie’s comments about using the process of writing to deal with the challenges of a sick & dying parent long distance.

    1. Kate Motaung May 14, 2019

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with that trial, Denise! I hope the Lord continues to use writing as a way for you to process and heal.

  2. Michele May 14, 2019

    This book will definitely be added to my already too long want to read list! You had me at ‘belonging’ as I received such a life changing revelation about that just six months ago. But when you go for a focus on longing for eternity, you’re definitely playing my song, one I lose the tune for occasionally, but have been singing again these days with hope and joy. A memoir that will stir that longing? Yes, please! Pretty sure this is going to replace something already on my mental summer reading list!

    1. Kate Motaung May 14, 2019

      Sounds like we’re definitely on the same page, Michele! I hope the book is a blessing to you if you get a chance to read it! 🙂

  3. Maria May 14, 2019

    The theme of place really resonates with me too. I’ve lived in enough places to know that home can be found anywhere on this globe, but where is home? Real home? That question gets deeper with the passing of time on the field (and I’m a newbie in this life). I love how story has brought healing to your grief.

    1. Kate Motaung May 14, 2019

      Maria, “Where is my home?” was one of the central questions that prompted me to write A Place to Land. 🙂 May you continue to find your home in Him!

  4. Rachel Pieh Jones May 14, 2019

    So great to see your words and book here, Kate! Home is such a powerful theme, and sometimes so much more illusive than we imagine. Thank you for writing your story.

  5. Heidi May 14, 2019

    This book is now on my list of must read. My husband and I have walked through some huge struggles. Things that have deepened our faith in the furnace of trial. Now we have another, our son in law has leukemia and we don’t know how this will turn out. 3 of our grandkids are theirs. We are struggling with being so far away and not able to help. It really stuck with me how you described your book.

    1. Kate Motaung May 20, 2019

      Oh, I’m so sorry for your trials, Heidi. May the God of all comfort draw near to you as you continue to cling to Him!

  6. Lisa B Anderson May 14, 2019

    I’m super excited to read this! I think it will help me personally as well as in my ‘sending and care’ role with a large mission organization.

    1. Kate Motaung May 20, 2019

      I hope so, Lisa! Thank you for the important role that you play!

  7. Sarah May 14, 2019

    I am also in the middle of glorious weakness and it is like a balm on my soul these days. I am very interested in reading your book as it reflects similar things I’ve been wrestling with. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Kate Motaung May 20, 2019

      My pleasure, Sarah! And I’m so glad you found Alia’s book, too! 🙂

  8. Lena May 15, 2019

    Belonging. What a powerful and persistent theme, especially for those of us who live “between worlds”. My own longing to belong is something God has been drawing my attention to lately (I was struck by Hebrews 11:9-10 again this morning). Thanks so much for putting your own experiences with that in a book for us to read and learn by!

    “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Heb 11:9-10

    1. Kate Motaung May 20, 2019

      I love that passage, Lena! Thank you for sharing it here. May you continue to find your home in Him.

  9. Spring May 17, 2019

    I really appreciate that sharing your story provided a place of healing. I think so many of us wrestle with knowing if God is here and he is still good. I do think that in the midst of this, it is so comforting to hear someone else’s story.

  10. Paulette May 19, 2019

    This sounds like an incredible book! The themes of longing for our home in heaven and having a place where we truly belong really resonate with me.Even before leaving my passport culture for the first time, just after graduating Bible college, I never felt like I really belonged anywhere, and that has always stirred a deep longing for eternity, and just to be with Jesus, and be like Him, without the sin and weaknesses we struggle with here.

    Kate, on your journey of learning these truths from the Lord and expressing them through your book, do you sometimes come across other believers who don’t seem to “get” your longings for heaven and seem to be so content and focused on their home here that this is all they think about? Do you have any tips for handling conversations like that, or for lovingly (and briefly) explaining your experience and perspective without.coming across as either crazy or super-spiritual? (Asking this question because a few experiences I have had like this sometimes make it hard to even start conversations about heaven as our home with other believers, even though it is often on my heart and mind).

    1. Kate Motaung May 20, 2019

      Those are great questions, Paulette! I would say one important thing you can do is to continue to live out your enthusiasm and anticipation for eternity as best as you can in sincerity and truth, and pray that the Lord would make your example to be appealing and contagious. 🙂 Ultimately it is the work of the Spirit, as you know, so we obviously can’t “force” anyone to get excited about eternity with the Lord . . . but we can do our best to stir up their longing and anticipation through our own witness and testimony. May the Lord strengthen and help you as you seek to live for Him!

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