Ask an Author {Book Club}

I look forward to “Ask An Author” like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. It gets my book loving heart beating to be able to interact with authors and not have to miss out because those opportunities only exist “back home.”  We are nearing the end of our time with  Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission and authors Robynn Bliss and Sue Eenigenburg are with us today. (Squeal!) They open to questions you have and will pop in and out this week as time allows.

I asked a question to get us started.

Recently where have you noticed expectations needing attention in your life? In general do you find you need to raise or lower expectations?

Sue: We just made a big move this past week from South Asia and plan to move to Europe in the fall after some time in the U.S. People have been asking if I am excited about the move and I have been thinking through how to respond. Yes, there is some excitement but we just had a big move five years ago and the memories of the hardships of adjusting to  a new country are still fairly fresh.

I am excited, but it is a tempered excitement knowing there will be challenges as well as benefits. When thinking about raising support I feel the increase needed is daunting, but God reminded me that he is in charge of Euros as well as Rupees and dollars! I would have thought that after knowing Jesus for over 40 years and being involved in ministry for almost 30 that walking by faith should be more automatic, but it isn’t. It is still choosing to trust Jesus for everything every day. I am thankful for God’s patience with me as I continue to expectantly look to Him to provide, to guide and to empower.

Robynn:  I never expected to end up here…in Kansas! It just wasn’t what I signed up for. I never expected that I’d live with my mother-in-law. Nope. Hadn’t banked on that. Most of my life has been a complete surprise to me!! And you’d think I’d be prepared given I contributed to a book on expectations once upon a time. But…alas….Jesus is constantly gently reminding me that he is faithfully in charge of my story. He knows what he’s doing. I maybe riding the roller coaster but he’s waiting patiently for me on the ground. He’s not in a dither. He’s not horrified by the way things are going. All along he planned this out to keep me constantly out of my element…constantly ever so slightly out of whack…so that I’d turn to him and find him to be my Relevant Redeemer!

Sue and Robynn, on behalf of the many, many who have benefited from your willingness to walk into these murky waters and show us a way out, thank you.

Over to you, what questions do you have?

Next week we’ll have a wrap up week since so much has been going on, we need time to process and finish the final chapter of the book. See you in the comments, friends!


Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 


  1. Danielle Wheeler May 4, 2015

    Sue and Robynn, thanks so much for being here!  I’m curious about how you felt when the book was first published.  Did it have the reception that you hoped for?  Did it feel worth the colossal effort I’m sure you put into the book?

    I, for one, don’t know how I only heard about this book last year.  But I know that it came at just the right time for me.  It’s been a huge part of my healing journey.  So I just want to say thank you.  It has had a huge influence on our spring series here at Velvet Ashes and especially on the Retreat which touched and encouraged so many.  So know that the ripples of your work are reaching far and wide.

    I loved the combination you had in the book of vulnerable story paired with solid research.  I want to mention a part of the book that was especially meaningful to me, but don’t have time right at this moment. I’ll be back. 🙂

    1. sue eenigenburg May 5, 2015

      Danielle, we were so excited when the book was finished! It was a labor of love and we both have prayed that God would use it to encourage women and honor his name. It is a great delight when we get an email or when someone tells us in person how God has used the book in her life. We are thrilled that God has graciously answered our prayers and is still using the book. It is very meaningful seeing a project through to the end and to know that it was a worthwhile investment of time, energy and emotion. We hope God continues to use it to equip women and men for the great commission! We hope that men will read it as well for a better understanding of over half the work force in overseas work. One male co-worker was reading it and simply put a small cover on the ‘wo’ so the subtitle read “men surviving the great commission!” 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

      1. Amy Young May 5, 2015

        Sue, that’s what I did too :). When I picked this book as the professional development book for the Member Care Providers one year, everyone read it. Men and women. It’s 95% transferable!

  2. Beth Everett May 5, 2015

    Sue and Robynn, thank you for the excellent resource that your book is. So appreciate the wisdom and experiences shared. I have several questions that I’ll put in separate comments 🙂
    Here is the first one:
    Which chapter was your favorite one to write and why?

    1. sue eenigenburg May 5, 2015

      Hi Beth, I think it’s hard to pick out a favorite chapter when each one was important to us. I think my favorite thing was working on the project with Robynn. It was a delight to incorporate her story into research and see the data fleshed out in a true story. One of my favorite quotes from Robynn that I use often is her story about the difference between and ocean and a pool.

      1. Beth Everett May 5, 2015

        That’s what I’ve really appreciated about this book – research (that reflected many women’s experiences) fleshed out in a true story throughout the book (Robynn’s, and yours!).

        And yes – that ocean/pool story is powerful!

  3. Beth Everett May 5, 2015

    Which chapter was the most challenging to write and why?

    1. sue eenigenburg May 5, 2015

      I remember sitting on a lazy boy chair with my computer on my lap and trying to figure out how to begin putting the dry research into something people would want to read. By the time I finished my thesis, it seemed rather technical as I had to keep illustrations and stories to a minimum.  I remember telling my friend, Beth Barron, who helped edit the book that I was feeling bored writing it. She replied that she was feeling bored reading it! I really appreciated her help and encouragement to use stories and add life to make the book relevant and interesting.

  4. Beth Everett May 5, 2015

    This is part of a comment I posted on April 13:
    “I’m intrigued by this statement “right from the beginning we cultivated the mantra and lived in its reality that Heaven is our true Home. We’ve persuaded our children. We’ve drilled it into them. Where is home? Heaven!” (Ch 7)  I would love to know more about what they did as parents to cultivate this and how this has helped their TCK kids figure out the dreaded “where is home for you?” question.”
    Could you share more? 🙂

  5. Beth Everett May 5, 2015

    Loved this in the introduction: “May God be at work as we work through these expectations and focus on all He will do to help us burn brightly, rather than burnout, for Him and His glory among the nations.” In Chapter 11 you shared about the importance of training workers to have a theology of suffering and to “prepare ourselves to suffer and suffer well.” This is deep. For those who maybe have not read the book yet, could you expand on this rich truth?
    What is the main difference between burning brightly while being prepared to suffer well, versus ‘burning out for Jesus’?

  6. T May 5, 2015

    Good questions, Beth!  I’ll be back to read the answers!

  7. J May 5, 2015

    Hi Sue and Robynn,

    I have just finished reading the book and found it very helpful. It confirmed again what God has been showing me – that my relationship with Him is the most important and I cannot do things in my own strength. (John 15:5)

    I have a question about sharing with friends, home church and supporters. How do we get the right balance with being realistic about the issues and situations we face without being overly negative oror, on the other hand, glossing over problems and difficulties?

    1. sue eenigenburg May 5, 2015

      Sharing our lives, the good and the bad, the successes and failures is important. I think when we share both people can relate better to us as they experience the good and the bad as well while we all seek to honor God through both. When we don’t share the struggles and only share the victories we rob others of the opportunity to walk with us and see God’s faithfulness through our trials. If we share only the struggles and none of the joys, we are missing the importance of gratitude and giving of thanks with others for God’s glory.  I think sharing what we are learning through the hard times and stating by faith what we know is true about God in the midst of troubles is also important and a great encouragement to ourselves and others.

      It is helpful to examine our motives as to why we are sharing or why not. Is pride or shame an issue? Is it an image we want to project or a reputation we feel pressure to maintain? Sharing our hearts humbly and honestly brings healing and hope. (wow, that’s a lot of h’s)

      For those stresses that are particularly sensitive, it is helpful to have a smaller group or prayer partner(s) with whom we can share more fully and only share briefly with a larger group. I found this to be true for me when dealing with stories affecting me but not necessarily my story to tell.



  8. Danielle Wheeler May 5, 2015

    Robynn, there were many parts of your story that I resonated with.  When you talked about God seeing all the hurting children in a room, my reaction was that, of course, the first thing he wants is for me to help them.  But the reality is that he first wants to take ME to himself.

    I think that hits right at the core of why so many women like us burnout.  We put doing FOR God in front of being WITH him.  The illustration you gave there made that powerfully real for me.

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