Episode 87: Interview with Josie Siler and Helping Children Understand They Are Created with Purpose

In this episode we talk with Josie Siler about her new book launching next week: Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw. We also talk about how each one of us is created with a purpose in God’s plan.

Our Guest: Josie Siler

Passionate about helping people find joy for their journey, Josie Siler, a small-town Wisconsin girl, has big dreams. As an award-winning author and photographer, Josie shares God’s gifts of beauty, hope, and adventure with people who are overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, encouraging them to walk in the freedom and joy found in Jesus. Josie’s debut picture book, Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw, releases with End Game Press 2.22.22. She’s a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com, a field editor for Our Wisconsin Magazine, and her photographs are published in the multi-award-winning book Advent Devotions and Christmas Crafts for Families written by Victoria Duerstock. Josie’s a chronic illness warrior who believes every day is a gift that should be celebrated. She ministers to others with chronic illness, as well as their caregivers, through Broken but Priceless Ministries and Broken but Priceless: The Magazine. When she’s not writing or taking pictures, you’ll find Josie looking for adventure, curled up with a good book, or cuddling her teddy bear dog Ruby Mae (a.k.a. The Scruffy Princess). Connect with Josie at JosieSiler.com

Books Discussed in This Episode:

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 very special guest, Josie Siler, who will be joining us and sharing about her debut book, her very first picture book. Hi, Josie. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m looking forward to talking with you.

Josie:

Well, thank you for having me, Terrie.

Terrie:

Well, I’m excited to talk to you. You’re the first debut writer I’ve gotten to talk to, and I just can’t wait to read your book when it comes out.

Josie:

Oh, that’s so much fun.

Terrie:

Tell us about your book, Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw.

Josie:

Yeah, Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw is the story of the little donkey that Jesus wrote into Jerusalem. This poor little donkey has a broken hee-haw, and he feels so terrible about himself. He keeps practicing and trying to get it right and be able to, hee-haw, hee-haw like all the other donkeys, and he just can’t do it. And it makes him so mad and then Jesus has need for him. And Jesus picks him out of all the donkeys to ride into Jerusalem. Howie learns that he’s not really broken after all and that God created him on purpose and with a purpose. That’s the message that I want kids and adults to learn too, that we may have things that we don’t like about ourselves, but oftentimes those are the very things that God can use for His glory, and He can use in amazing ways. So that’s what this little picture book is about.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s wonderful. It comes out soon, right? It comes out–

Josie:

Yeah, it comes out February 22nd. It’s the perfect release date, in my opinion, I just loving it. It’s 2/2/22. So it’s easy to remember and it looks beautiful in print.

Terrie:

That’s great. And this will be out in time then for us to get it for Easter.

Josie:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Terrie:

And to read for that. That’s amazing. And so this is your first picture book. Have you written other things? I know you have another ministry we definitely want to talk about and a blog, right?

Josie:

This is my first full book by myself. I have written a lot of other things–articles and things like that. I write quite often for Salem Web Network, which does like Crosswalk.com and Biblestudytools.com. So I’ve written some articles. I’m in a compilation book called Breaking the Chains edited by Katy Kauffman. That was my first publication in a real live book. And so that was exciting, but this is my first one that’s just me. So it’s very exciting.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s so fun. And you’re involved in a ministry for those who are dealing with living with chronic illness.

Josie:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Terrie:

Tell us about that.

Josie:

It called Broken but Priceless Ministries. It was founded by my friend, Erin Elizabeth Austin, and Erin and I both went to the same school. I went to Columbia International Seminary, and she went to Columbia International University. We weren’t there at the same time, but we were both in the same place. And so I found her by reading an alumni newsletter, and there was a little blurb on the top about this ministry for people who had chronic illnesses. That’s something that I live with. And so I thought, oh, that’s interesting. And I just sent her an email. We connected right away. We emailed back and forth. She was starting to get overwhelmed with the ministry. It was growing. She asked me if I would come alongside of her and help her out. We’ve been ministry partners for years now, and it’s just so much fun to be able to use our brokenness, to help and encourage other people who feel like they’re broken too. I had wanted to be a missionary. That’s what I went to school for. That’s what I wanted to do since I was a wee little girl, and it’s all I ever wanted to do. And then when I got sick right before I was heading overseas for my first four-year term, I thought, oh, well now what God? And then He brought this ministry along, and Erin and I now can minister to people, literally all over the world through social media, our Facebook page, and we put out an online magazine that is free. We have incredible writers, and it comes out four times a year. It’s something that, you know, just encourages people with chronic illness, but also their caregivers because we love caregivers. They are so important. And they often get overlooked. Erin and I, you know, neither one of us would be here, I don’t think, without the people who have helped us along the way. So we want to encourage them too. So it’s just a ministry that comes alongside and encourages people who feel sick and helpless and frustrated and all of the things that ironically Howie feels in my book. I realized after I wrote it, that I basically wrote my own story.

Terrie:

Well, that was what I was going to ask you.

Josie:

It wasn’t intentional. And I didn’t even know it until after it was my first interview. Actually, I was saying something, and it just dawned on me that, oh my goodness, this is my story.

Terrie:

That’s amazing, God is so cool.

Josie:

And He has a sense of humor. I love it.

Terrie:

Well, and I think too, there’s so many people now who are dealing with so many different types of chronic illnesses that we have no cure for. We have no way of lessening the daily pain and issues that people deal with, and to have a ministry that offers hope and encouragement and a place to just vent, I think is such an amazing ministry. Because so many times people want to just give you a Bible verse and a prayer and you’re not allowed to be sad or upset or confused or questioning God, “Why am I going through this when I feel called to do something else?” So what an amazing ministry,

Josie:

Chronic illness is a whole other ballgame because it took me two solid years to understand and comprehend that chronic meant I wasn’t going to get better ever unless God healed me. Praise the Lord, He has been healing me slowly but surely. I was wanting that one time, you know, fast miracle that we all want, but my story is no less miraculous. It’s just taking, you know, a long time. But it gets really tiring when you deal with it day in and day out and friends and family and people looking from the outside–it’s hard for them to understand–well, why aren’t you better yet? You know, and, and well, have you tried this and have you tried that? And it’s like, trust me, I have tried it all. You know? So just to have a place that people can come where the other people really understand what you’re going through and understand that it’s a long game and it might not ever get better this side of heaven. It can be really frustrating, but it can also be a blessing to just share your story with other people and to walk alongside them. And to know that, Hey, I’m not the only one experiencing this. I know exactly how you’re feeling. And just knowing that somebody knows how you’re feeling makes you feel a little less, I don’t know, overwhelmed with life and gives you motivation and encouragement to keep going.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s amazing. So two things I’d like for you to share with us: how did you deal with the disappointment of changing your calling of feeling called to foreign missions or international missions? And then suddenly that calling just being completely turned upside down. Help our listeners know how you handled that kind of a disappointment and a sudden change in God’s leading.

Josie:

Honestly, I did not handle it very well at first. My grandma’s a hundred percent Norwegian. So that’s most of what I have in me that tends to have a very strong, stubborn streak. We tend to stuff our emotions and not deal with them. And so that’s how I handled it. It was my coping mechanism. Everything’s okay. It’s fine. It’s fine. You know, and I’ve never been good at dealing with my emotions and talking about how I’m feeling because I never could put into words how I was feeling. And so for me, a part of my physical healing process has also been an emotional healing process. I’ve done some counseling and just trying to understand who I am in Christ. It’s not about what I do, but it’s about who I am in Him. And I am already healthy and healed in my spirit in Christ. I am already United with Jesus, and there are all these promises that I was waiting for one day when I got to heaven, I realized that a lot of promises are true right now, spiritually. I could access those, you know. I could have the peace that passes all understanding, and I could just know who I am in Christ, and eternity starts now because eternity is our eternity with him. And when we’re United with Him, when we put our faith in Him, that has begun. All of those promises that are good for someday are also good for today. And so that was a big thing in me moving forward. But I also realized that what I wanted to do overseas was work with people who felt alone and unloved, who didn’t know the peace that comes from a relationship with Jesus and in the joy that comes in the midst of the hard things in life. That’s exactly what I get to do every day through Broken but Priceless Ministries, through my own ministry of writing and just connecting with people on social media. And it’s like, God didn’t take my dream away. He just fulfilled it in a way that I was not expecting. I find that true in a lot of people’s lives that the desires that we have, God does fulfill them. They just look different than what we’re expecting. So if we’re able to look at our lives, kind of take a step back from how we think we should accomplish the dream to how God is already doing that in and through us. Because I realize that God and doing that in my life for years, allowing me to be an encouragement to other people while I’m going through my own hard stuff. I think part of it is just being able to be honest with people and say, yes, this is hard. That was a big thing for me, was being able to acknowledge how hard life is sometimes and how miserable I felt sometimes and how disappointed I was. But even in all of that, God is still good. He still has a plan for me, and it’s a good plan. And so I think that’s how I kind of coped with it and got past the coping point to the part of really healing and celebrating who I am in Christ because that doesn’t change. Even though my circumstances change, who I am is the daughter of the King. That will never, ever change.

Terrie:

That is so wonderful. Oh my goodness. I love the message that you have. And then to have that come out in a children’s book without even intending it to–what a blessing!

Josie:

That’s the message I wish I had when I was a kid. It’s like, oh, I want kids to start understanding this before they go through all the hard things.

Terrie:

It’s such a powerful thing. I had a pastor’s wife when I was in middle school who said, hold on to God’s calling for your life, but hold onto it loosely because He may still be defining it, you know? And He has the right to change what it looks like. That was such amazing advice for me as teenage girl, because you don’t know what turns life is going to take and how your road isn’t going to go the way you thought it was. And to see that, exactly what you said, that it’s the relationship with God and who you are in Christ that matters. And the” what we do” is just–it changes. It changes all the time.

Josie:

There are seasons to life, you know, that have that dream for you in the next season, but maybe not this season.

Terrie:

True. Yeah. We were missionaries overseas, but then because of our children and their situations, we needed to come home when they got to a certain age, you know. Redefining who you think you are and what ministry God has for, or you is always happening. It’s–

Josie:

A big adjustment.

Terrie:

Yeah. Oh, tell us how we can find your group on Facebook or your website and how people can connect with you.

Josie:

Yeah. On Facebook, if you want to find Broken but Priceless Ministries. You can just type that in, in the search, and it should come up Broken but Priceless Ministries. I believe it’s facebook.com/brokenbutpricelessministries. I think it’s all written out like that. And then you can also find, I have a link on my website, too. josiesiler.com. That’s where you can find information about my book, all my social media links to connect with me that way, subscribe to my newsletter–All of that’s at josiesiler.com.

Terrie:

Okay. So your book launches next week, but I want to let our listeners know they can pre-order your book now. Where can they find your book to pre-order that today?

Josie:

Most places have it. You can go to Josiesiler.com/Howie’sBrokenHee-Haw. And I have a whole bunch of links for different places that you can buy it. But it’s on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million. It’s on walmart.com, Christianbook.net. So it, yeah, it pretty much anywhere you order books, you will be able to find it.

Terrie:

That’s wonderful. I usually ask all my guests what their favorite picture book was as a child. And so do you have a favorite picture book or board book that you just loved when you were little?

Josie:

I do. I really, really love the book The Muffin Muncher. It’s by Steven Cosgrow. I don’t know if you’re familiar. It’s a Serendipity book. There was a whole series of these different Serendipity books. The Muffin Muncher was my favorite. It’s about a muffin-munching dragon who was kind of selfish and steals all the muffins, but then he learns how to share and work together. But I don’t know, for some reason I just love this dragon.

Terrie:

That’s fun. I forgot about those books. I used to love those books.

Josie:

Yeah, they were some of our favorites growing up.

Terrie:

That’s cool. Is there anything else you’d like to leave our listeners with today?

Josie:

I would just ask you, if you would, pray for me and for the launch of this book, just that God would get it into the hands of the people who He wants to read it, just also for my health through this whole process, because as we all know, stress can trigger chronic illnesses and flares and things like that. And I haven’t done any of the things that I’m doing right now before. And so it’s a lot of new territory, a lot of figuring out how to do things, and there is way more than I will ever be able to get done. So just pray that I will be able to have good health and go in the strength of the Lord and that He would help me prioritize the things that I need to do with it–that He wants me to do–not that I think I should do, or that somebody has told me to do, but to do the things that He actually wants me to invest my time and energy in.

Terrie:

Amen, good prayer for all of us, but yeah, definitely. We’ll be praying for you. This is so exciting.

Josie:

I sure appreciate that.

Terrie:

And do you do like school visits? Are you open to those kinds of things?

Josie:

Absolutely. Yeah. I have a couple of homeschool school visits that are in the works, trying to get lined up so I can do virtual or in-person if you’re close or if I’m traveling to your area. So yeah, you can email me at Josie@josiesiler.com if you would be interested in doing something like that.

Terrie:

Thank you so much for coming and talking with us today. I think you have a wonderful message that God has given you and such an important one for children to start hearing through your book and through what you share with them. I’m just excited to see what God’s going to do.

Josie:

I am too. It’s always an adventure with Him, isn’t it?

Terrie:

Yes. Amen.

Josie:

Thank you so much for having me.

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 get in touch with Josie, you can find her at JosieSiler.com, and you can also link to her ministry from there. And if you would like to get in touch with me, you can reach me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. We would love to hear from you. And don’t forget to pre-order Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw. It comes out on February 22, but you can order it now.

Your Host:

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 mornings.

Her blog posts are published a couple times each month and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of life to disciple our children.

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 “Life doesn’t need to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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