Episode 71: Interview with Author and Speaker Kathi Lipp: Remembering the Joys of Childhood Books

In this episode, Kathi Lipp and I discuss her books filled with many practical ideas as well the spiritual truths found in the every-day struggles we walk through. We also share books that meant so much to us as children. Join us for this fun conversation. 

Our Guest Today: Kathi Lipp

 Kathi Lipp is the host of the Clutter Free Academy podcast, and the bestselling author of The Husband Project, Clutter Free and Ready for Anything. She and her husband, Roger, live in the mountains of northern
California where they run the Red House Writing Retreats. Using humor and wisdom, Kathi offers hope paired with practical steps to women looking to live with meaning. You can find out more about Kathi at
www.KathiLipp.com.

Books Discussed in this Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Terrie:

Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. Today, we have a special guest with us. Kathi Lipp is going to be talking to us about her books and what children’s books have blessed her life. Kathi Lipp is the host of the Clutter-Free Academy podcast and the bestselling author of The Husband Project, Clutter Free, and Ready for Anything. She and her husband, Roger live in the mountains of Northern California, where they run The Red House Writing Retreats, using humor and wisdom. Kathi offers hope paired with practical steps to women looking to live with meaning. You can find out more about Kathi at www.KathiLipp.com

Terrie:

Kathi, you are such a busy person who coaches and encourages fellow writers and speakers. Your passion for seeing people succeed and live the life God wants them to live–that He’s called them to–is so evident in all that you do. So I just want to say, I’m so glad you’re here today to share with our listeners.

Kathi:

Well, that’s the best compliment you could give me, seriously. It just makes me so excited to see, especially writers, do what God has called them to. It’s very exciting for me.

Terrie:

Well, I love your books and I’ve been reading a couple of them in preparation for this interview, actually about parenting and those kinds of things–because most of my listeners are parents of younger children and we all live that chaotic perfectionistic craziness that we tend to fall into. So I would love to talk about a few of your books today before we talk about children’s books. By the way, I think you would be a fabulous children’s book author, just putting that out there,

Kathi:

You know what? I will tell you the number one recommendation I get is to write a book about Moose and the chickens. So we have a, we call her a boxer chiweenie or boxer chihuahua dachshund, so she is, she is a kick. She is 10 pounds of ferocious. Then we have five chickens, and we call them the cheesy chicks because they’re all named after different cheeses. I’ll be honest with you. I know very little about writing children’s books. It seems harder than writing grownup books.

Terrie:

I would agree with that because I’ve just switched to children’s writing a few years ago, and, oh my goodness, it’s much, much harder than I ever thought.

Kathi:

So I appreciate that. I will have to explore that with you at another time because you know what? I always want to try new things.

Terrie:

Well, you’d be great. Your humor–they love books with humor, so that would be perfect.

Kathi:

I love it.

Terrie:

So your main ministry is helping people find freedom from the clutter in their lives. And you have several books about that. Could you share a little bit about those books?

Kathi:

So, my dad was a hoarder, and I was definitely going towards that lifestyle. Maybe not a hoarder, but definitely somebody who had way too much clutter in my life. And so I started to really try to understand it and have really come to the conclusion that clutter, while a physical issue, a mental issue, is also a spiritual issue, especially about, you know, fear, guilt and shame. Fear–What if I need it someday. Guilt–So and so gave it to me. So I need to keep it for the rest of our lives. And then shame–I spent so much money on it. I can’t get rid of it. And these are all principles, you know, that are talked about throughout scripture. And so when I started to get to the real depths of why I was keeping the clutter I did, I realized it really was a spiritual issue and have started to attack it from that point. But we also do it very practically. And so, my three main books on this are Clutter Free, which has all the principles, The Clutter-Free Home, where we go step by step, and then Get Yourself Organized. But the best place to just hop in is we have a free Facebook group. It’s called Clutter-Free Academy, and we’d love for anybody to join there.

Terrie:

I’ve joined there. It’s great. I love the encouragement and the breaking it down to bite size chunks, you know, take 15 minutes and do this. That’s like, brilliant.

Kathi:

Well, I get very bossy over there, but sometimes that’s what you need.

Terrie:

I also love your books that you co-wrote with Cheri Gregory, and I especially love You Don’t Have to Try So Hard because I am a recovering perfectionist.

Kathi:

People who struggle with clutter are perfectionists. You’re right. You know? So that tracks.

Terrie:

Can you talk about that book a little bit and the other book you’ve written with her?

Kathi:

Yeah. So Overwhelmed is probably our more popular one, but we have rabid fans for You Don’t Have to Try So Hard. So that is all about–there’s people pleasing, perfectionism, all these things that make us try harder than we actually need to, instead of really resting in what God has asked us to do. And so it’s a little bit about being extra, but in You Don’t Have to Try So Hard, it’s really saying, you know, yes, we want people who try hard, but we want you to try in the right direction, and that’s really what it’s all about.

Terrie:

I love that. My all-time favorite title and cover art on any parenting book I’ve ever seen is I Need Some Help Here. It’s so great and genuine and heartfelt. And I have to say that one of my favorite parts of that book is three little words that you wrote in there. And I have kids with special needs. I have four kids and three of the four have special needs. And you said you changed your prayer from helping them to be enough to “be their enough”–for God to be their enough. And I thought, oh, that revolutionized my life. I pray that now for my kids all the time, that book is just so amazing. So talk about that one for a minute.

Kathi:

Originally I had a contract to write three books. So Praying God’s Word for Your Life, Praying God’s Word for Your Kids, and Praying God’s Word for Your Husband. And when I had written the first two books, feeling good, I’d signed that contract when all the kids were kind of doing what they were supposed to be doing. And I really, I’ll tell you, I was going with a little arrogance. You know, if you pray this way, God’s going to answer you this way. And as long as you’re faithful, God will be faithful. Well, God is always faithful. But our idea of faithful isn’t always what we want, you know, what we want life to look like. And so my kids were, you know, going down different paths than I had hoped for. And it’s like, okay, but is God’s still there in the chaos of parenting kids who, you know, maybe don’t look like what other families think good kids look like. And you know, so it was, it was a real struggle. And when, once we changed the title, I’m like, you know, because here’s the thing. My kids did not always choose the same path I did, but I didn’t love them any less. And I knew that God didn’t love them any less. And so I needed to write the book for those parents. So yeah, a lot happens between the time you sign the contract when your kids are 10 and then they turned 16, you know, you learn more about what you don’t know.

Terrie:

With all that our world has been going through. we have to talk about your most recent book, the being Ready for Anything book.

Kathi:

Yes. Yeah. I wrote that, and it was supposed to come out in May of 2020, you know, it’s about being prepared for an emergency, and boy, who, you know, nobody could have seen what was coming. I always like to give people three simple pieces of advice for preparing for any kind of emergency. And that is, you know, get some extra water. So get one, at least three days of water for every person in your family. Get three weeks of food and three months of financials, you know, because you can figure out the water, you know, usually, especially with say like an earthquake or something like that, the food may be harder because stores may be interrupted, that kind of thing. And finances nobody’s ever going to regret having three months worth of finances in the book. I try to give you simple ways to get to all of those thresholds to help you out.

Terrie:

Yeah. It’s a really practical book. It’s really great. I love it. Most of your books are very practical.

Kathi:

Yeah, there is definitely a spiritual undertone to each one that may be a little surprising to people, you know, decluttering that there’s a spiritual aspect to that, preparing for an emergency is really about being prepared so that you can help others. And so it’s trying to understand, what has God called us to in each of these situations?

Terrie:

Yes. I love that. I love that you include that in all your books. As you know, this program is normally about children’s books, picture books, and board books. So I would love for you to share about some children’s books that you have loved when you were a child. And then what are the books that you loved reading out loud to your children as they grew up too?

Kathi:

Oh, I love that. I couldn’t read enough as a child. I loved it. Loved it, loved it. My favorite favorite series of books is one that I find out that people aren’t really familiar with. And it was this series called The Great Brain. I’m trying to think of when it was set. The main character was a little boy named Thomas, or not so little, probably. You know, throughout the books, he was probably eight to fourteen. He was just a genius. And so he was always solving problems, solving issues. The author was John Dennis Fitzgerald, and Thomas had a brother and two very put-upon parents and, oh my goodness, he was hilarious. He was, he was always getting into trouble, but I loved how his brain worked, and they were definitely written for boys. But I just, as a girl, I loved him because he would solve mysteries and things like that. And the illustrations in them were just beautiful. That was my favorite series. Now that was definitely not like picture books, but when I think of my childhood, that’s what I think of.

Kathi:

I was a huge reader as a child. My brother was not. So my mom would always go like to a bookstore or something and load me up. And then we’d go to a comic book store for my brother, because she was like, I just want you to read something. I don’t care what it is. So I just want you to read something. So, you know, I loved Madeline as a little girl. I loved that. I loved all the Dr. Seuss. Those were some of my favorites. I loved, oh my goodness. I’m trying. I get mixed up between what I read for my kids and what I read for myself. Love You Forever was one that I read to my kids all the time. And we, you know, they practically had it memorized. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I was a big Judy Bloom girl too. So I love, you know, I love some of hers and Winnie the Pooh. Definitely some of my favorites. I love The Velveteen Rabbit as well. So I mean, yeah, I kind of popcorning all over, but those were all some of my favorite.

Terrie:

That’s awesome. I loved every one you’ve mentioned practically, except the first group. I don’t know that one. I’m going to have to look that one up–the series you mentioned. That’s so cool.

Kathi:

It’s so funny because, you know, who knows how correct it would be right now. You know, I remember he was a bit of a, you know, he respected girls to a certain point, but maybe not as much as we would have liked to have seen today. But yeah, I think The Great Brain series was definitely under-appreciated because I don’t know a lot of kids who have read those, but I just remember them so vividly, and they come up, they come back to memory all the time. Oh, and one other one, not your deepest book ever, but Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. My kids loved that book. It’s interesting to see, you know, what writers loved as children. So I have to ask you, Terrie, so like what are some of your favorites? Because I’m sure you’ve discussed, but I would love to know if you have any crossover.

Terrie:

Yeah. Nobody’s ever asked me, I love The Velveteen Rabbit, but one of my all time favorite books is, and I don’t know if I remember the title. It’s out of print now. Of course, because I’m old, but it’s about, it’s the Alexander ah,

Kathi:

[Harold] and the Purple Crayon?

Terrie:

It’s the, I loved those two. I love those books. It’s the one, there’s an old lady. She lives in a mansion and she has a yak and a London sitting cat and a, and a crocodile, and there’s going to be a flood and they’re trying to warn the city and everybody’s afraid of the crocodile and don’t understand he’s trying to help them. And what is it called? I have it on my shelf. You know, I have a copy of it. [Alexander and the Magic Mouse].But anyway, that was my daughter’s favorite too. When I had her, I had to read it to her.

Kathi:

Oh, I have to put that in the show notes.

Terrie:

Yes I will. But that was one of my all time favorite books. And I loved as far as series and a little bit older, of course, I loved Little House, but I loved, oh yeah, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew I’ve read. I love mysteries. I’ve always loved mysteries. One of my favorite adult books that I read is Mary Higgins Clark. I have almost all of her books. Yeah. So I’m a mystery person.

Kathi:

And have you read, it’s called, uh, it’s the biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s Prairie Fires.

Terrie:

I haven’t read that one. I’ve read a lot of different books about her and her life, but I haven’t read that one.

Kathi:

Yeah. I found that to be–it was long, it was one of the longest books I’ve ever read, but it was so good. And it was really based about her and her daughter’s relationship.

Terrie:

Oh, that would be interesting. I’ve read some articles about their relationship, and it was very different. They were both writers.

Kathi:

Yes. And very complicated, but very interesting.

Terrie:

Yes. So that would be a good one. I’ll have to put that one in the show notes for people to look at. And then now, today I still read books to my children. Of course. I read all the picture books to them. I’m like, okay, I got a new one. You’ve got to listen to this. But I love to read the funny ones to them. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. I love that one. Have you read that?

Kathi:

But I’ve never heard of that.

Terrie:

It’s about a little T-Rex who goes to school and eats her classmates. And then the teacher says we don’t eat our classmates. So she spits them out and they’re all sitting there with slobbers on them.

Kathi:

Oh, that’s so funny.

Terrie:

And then the fish bites her finger, and she finds that it doesn’t feel good to be eaten or bitten, you know?

Kathi:

Oh my goodness. That’s hilarious.

Terrie:

So I love that one as a teacher, especially that’s a cool one, and there are just so many, but, I just have, oh, like three bookshelves full of picture books and children’s books. And then I have my, because I used to teach lit, so I have my Brit lit and my American lit, so I’ve got shelves full of those. I’m kind of a bookaholic. Oh, I’m glad you asked me. Cause nobody ever asks me.

Kathi:

So I have to ask you about one other since you were a mystery person. The other mystery book I loved as a kid was Encyclopedia Brown, right?

Terrie:

Now. See that one I never saw until I was a teacher. And I don’t know why I didn’t see it when I was younger. But when I was a teacher, I definitely brought that one in. And there’s one about a little kid named Nathaniel [Nate the Great] that’s a detective, it’s a mystery for like seven years. And my son is Nathaniel. So I got those for him to read when he was in second grade. But those are early chapter books that were really cool, but I didn’t see those as a kid.

Kathi:

I remember just blowing through those, you know, and now I also loved the comics. Like I would get the Peanuts books of comics, but I liked the earlier ones, not the later ones. I liked the like simpler ones, but those were favorites as well. Don’t we all love to talk about what formed us as an author. You know, I think about so much time that I spent with those books, you know, my brother was always the kid. My mom would be like, I’m going to the fabric store. And my brother would be like, I want to go. And I was always the one who’s like, yeah, I’ll stay in my room and read my book. And it just, you know, it forms who you are, but in the best possible way.

Terrie:

One thing I’ve learned from you and your books too, is that we each have a calling on our lives. We each have a purpose that God has given and it’s not necessarily what we think it is.

Kathi:

Isn’t that the truth. Yeah.

Terrie:

When it comes to my writing, that’s kind of how I look at it. I’m like, God, I’m just trying to be faithful to what I think you want me to do. And then it’s yours.

Kathi:

Well, and Terrie, I always like to remember this–that the people most impacted by my books may have never read them. It may be a change in their mom’s heart. It may be a change in their friend. You know, who’s doing something a little bit differently. Maybe it’s the husband whose wife says, you know what? I’m not going to nag my husband about the clutter anymore. I’m just going to do what I need to do. And so I think so often the impact that God is putting out there isn’t necessarily impacting my readers, but it, well, it impacts my readers, but then it impacts, you know, the 10 closest people around them who have never read my books.

Terrie:

I’ve never even thought of that. That’s wonderful. Well, I know already your books have impacted me and my family and feeling so encouraged that I’m not alone. Your books say that many, many times, we’re not alone. We’re all in this together. And we’re all struggling with something. We need to hear that. We need to know that because we are so hard on ourselves sometimes.

Kathi:

We really are. Well, thank you for encouraging me today. I’m really, really grateful for that.

Terrie:

Well, I appreciate you taking the time and sharing with us, and I just appreciate you so much.

Kathi:

Oh, back at you, Terrie.

Terrie:

Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions, as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you would like to reach out to Kathi Lipp or find out more about her books, you can go to her website at KathiLipp.com. And if you would like to join my mailing list, you can find me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. We would love to hear from you.

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.

For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

4 thoughts on “Episode 71: Interview with Author and Speaker Kathi Lipp: Remembering the Joys of Childhood Books”

  1. This podcast brought back fond memories of some of the books I loved as a child!
    Nancy Drew
    The Hardy Boys
    Biographies, especially!

    1. Terrie Hellard Brown

      I loved biographies too. Still do. We didn’t discuss those in the podcast, but they can be such a powerful inspiration in a child’s life.

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