Stick With It with Carol McCracken (Re-Air)
Do you ever think that you’ve gone too far? That you’ve made too many mistakes for God to use you in ministry? If so, you aren’t alone. But there is still hope!
After a drunk driving incident landed her in court, this week’s Publishing Secrets guest, Carol McCracken, thought her ministry as a Bible study teacher was over. But in truth, God’s plan for her life was just beginning. Listen as Carol shares her story of God’s grace and direction, and be encouraged by her message that God can use anyone for His glory — yes, even you!
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- The many surprising ways Carol has experienced God’s grace in her life
- Tips on dealing with “analysis paralysis” when you have too many options
- When self-publishing might make more sense than traditional publishing — and how to self-publish a book you can be proud of
- The importance of letting people who don’t love you read your work before it’s published
- Carol’s advice for the writer who’s struggling to finish their book and get it published
Carol’s “Come to Jesus” Moment
Carol McCracken says her life has been anything but “traditional.” Raising a son with four mental health disorders was incredibly challenging, especially since there weren’t many resources available to help her and her husband navigate those challenges.
Over time, they both turned to alcohol to cope — until one day, Carol was pulled over for driving under the influence. Now, she calls it a “come to Jesus meeting,” because “He loved me enough to get my attention.”
As a Bible study teacher, Carol was terrified and ashamed. “I’m a rule follower,” she explains. “And I knew I had broken so many rules.” But when she appeared in court, instead of being punished, her slate was wiped clean. The judge warned her not to repeat the mistake, returned her bail money, and no record was left on her insurance.
“I did not deserve one bit of that,” she says. “But I was like, ‘Lord, I will not mess up again. You literally scared the hell out of me!” Until this experience, Carol hadn’t realized how badly her judgment was being impaired. But now she knew she needed to make some significant changes in her life.
One of those changes was making the difficult decision to divorce. Though Carol hadn’t believed in divorce up to this point, it was becoming clear that the marriage was not healthy for either of them.
Carol’s story is a powerful reminder that you don’t have to be perfect to be used by God and to serve in ministry — in fact, no one is! But God loves us enough to pursue us, to get our attention, and to set us back on the right track so He can perfect us for His purposes.
Carol admits that she would have chosen a much more “dignified” path if she could have. “But alas, this is my story, and I’m meant to share it,” she says.
Journey to Publishing Non-Traditionally
Though Carol considers herself a speaker rather than a writer, God soon started calling her to write. Almost on a whim, she found herself attending a Christian writers conference and meeting agents, one of whom listened to her idea and asked her to submit a book proposal.
Instead of accepting the proposal, however, the agent advised her to publish independently or through a small press — because that agent believed the book needed to be written to support Carol’s speaking ministry.
Ultimately, Carol published her book, Wisdom: Where To Find It If You’ve Lost, Forgotten, Or Never Had It, independently. This was a different publishing path than she’d anticipated — after all, for many people, even getting to talk to an agent and submit a proposal is a dream come true!
But Carol’s story is a valuable reminder to us that just because the traditional publishing route doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean your story doesn’t have value. It may just mean that God has another plan for you and your book.
Additionally, Carol’s publishing experience highlights that your book is only a piece of the story. For many people, the real income opportunity — and ministry — comes not through the book itself, but by leveraging your book to give credibility and visibility to the other gifts God has given you.
When it came to actually getting her book published, however, Carol says she wrestled with indecision for a while.
“I did a lot of research, and I had a lot of analysis paralysis,” she explains. “If you have paralysis, you cannot do anything. You’re in one spot, and you must move forward. And I’ve got to be honest, I learned just as much by trying things that didn’t work as I did with things that did work.”
One of the things that did work was joining an international writing critique association. This organization helped her find her unique voice, develop a 15-minute presentation of her message, and connect with people to edit, design, and format her book for publishing.
“I have learned, do not ever put anything out there unless somebody has read it first,” Carol says. You want your book to represent you and your message well, and that means you need to make sure it’s professionally made. That way, not only are you putting out a finished work that you can truly be proud of, but you’re also presenting your God-given message in a way that compels people to buy and read it.
In addition to getting feedback and editing help from someone who isn’t a friend or family member, Carol recommends having someone read your book out loud. This will help you understand how your message is coming across to the audience, instead of relying on how it sounds inside your own head.
Turning “Tests” into Authentic Testimony
Following her court appearance, Carol says she was afraid that everyone who knew her as a Bible study teacher would judge her. Instead, people told her what she had been through made her more believable and authentic as a spiritual leader. “I learned that in ministry, if you act like you’ve got it all together, you’re not being authentic,” she says.
Of course, there has to be a balance, and Carol adds that you still have to earn credibility from people who have never met you. But being able to share how God brought you out of your mistakes and failures can give people hope that they can also overcome whatever mistakes they’ve made in their own lives.
Not only has Carol been able to grow her ministry and her platform, but she has also found renewed friendship with her ex-husband and used her story to inspire countless others.
“I did not go through life traditionally,” she says. “I have had a lot of challenges. But I am still here, and there is still breath in me. And I would like to encourage others that God can use anyone. Stick close to him; He will get your attention, and He’ll help get you through some stuff. Because the stuff that you’re going through is going to be used in ministry. Somehow, you’re going to be able to help somebody else.”
Don’t Give Up
We all must face some kind of challenge in our lives and in pursuing the path God has called us to. No matter what challenges you are facing right now, Carol encourages you not to give up, no matter how hard it is or how long it seems to be taking.
“Stick with it,” she says. “If God has given you that message, He will also give you the way and the timing of that message… Whatever you do, get that message out there. It is important for the kingdom.”
Carol Ogle McCracken has been a Bible teacher for twenty years and served on church staff and in women’s ministry for three decades. She currently serves as the Minister of Discipleship at her home church. Carol is a Christian communicator in many different forums, large and small, and especially enjoys teaching at women’s retreats. She teaches a weekly Wednesday night women’s Bible study at her local church, which is also a podcast. She has a passion for helping couples prepare for their lives together and presently owns a wedding planning company on the Gulf Coast. But her greatest passion is to make the Bible come alive for women, connecting scripture to a real relationship with Jesus. She continues to search daily for wisdom and appears to be in good company, as she finds many women on the same quest. Her book Wisdom, Where to Find It if You’ve Lost, Forgotten, or Never Had It was released in November, 2020. Visit Carol’s website here. Connect with Carol on Instagram.