Today I want to share with you an interview I did with Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt about their new study, Transformed: Life-Taker to Life-Giver. There’s a story behind every book and this one is a testimony of a Titus 2 relationship lived out.
Christina: How did this study come about and how does it relate to the Transformed conferences?
Karen: The idea for this project was hatched last summer on Susan’s couch. I began unfolding the vision of what might happen if women across our denomination took the time to study Romans 11:33-12:2. Over 11 months we hoped to go to 8 regions of North America with this message and prayerfully see lives, homes, churches, workplaces, and communities transformed. Susan challenged me to think about the essence of our ministry— which is equipping women in the church. Once the conference was over…then what? The book grew out of our desire to give women a tool to unpack, in the context of community, what God’s transformative work looks like in the pages of scripture and in their own lives.
Susan: The conversation did not begin with an agenda to write a book. The book idea happened as Karen asked me about how concepts such as our redemptive calling to be life-givers developed, talked about her desire to steward what has been done in women’s ministry in the past, and shared her desire for women to not just be informed about a biblical perspective of womanhood but to be transformed. It was an electrifying moment when the past, present, and prayer for the future coalesced into the idea of Transformed—Life-taker to Life-giver.
Christina: Can you summarize the study?
Karen: This book is a combination of Bible Study (Thinking Biblically) and Devotional Readings (Living Covenantally). It is designed to be easily accessible and in short morsels of truth that you can digest on the go. These studies begin with Peter’s reference to “holy women who hoped in God” and then transitions to the stories of three such women: Eve, Sarah, and Mary. The aim of the study is for women’s hearts and minds to be renewed with the goal of being nothing less than transformed into the image of God’s own dear Son, Jesus Christ.
Christina: What was the collaboration like for you? How did you share or divide up the project?
Susan: Once we decided the format (Bible Study, Devotional Readings) it seemed easy enough. Karen would teach the Bible studies in her church, and I would write the devotions. But when we put the first chapter together, we realized that some of her Bible study ideas fit in the devotional section, and some of my ideas belonged in the Bible study. There was a lot of cutting and pasting, but we felt that the development and application of ideas was stronger, and we lost her voice and my voice—it became our voice. We loved that. In fact, we laugh because we can’t remember who wrote what, and it does not matter.
Karen: It is always your hope that a child picks up on the best thoughts and words of a parent. Because Susan has taught me so much over the years there were days I had trouble deciphering whether I wrote something original or I was merely regurgitating truths she had taught me. God graciously united our hearts and words so that it is our hope that this book represents one voice.
Christina: How long did it take you to write it together?
Karen: Not long. We had the conversation last summer, presented a proposal (to Christian Focus) in the fall, and sent the final draft to the publisher in March. They expedited the process so the book could be ready for most of the Transformed Conferences.
Christina: What did you both bring to the table? How did you blend your gifts?
Susan: We went into this project with a gospel friendship, and a shared commitment to Reformed and covenantal theology and to the concept of the book. I think the blending of our life-seasons gave added dimension to the book. The mingling of Karen’s vibrant energy and alertness to the cultural context of today’s women, and my slower, reflective seventy-six year old perspective, made each of us stronger. But isn’t this the way life is to be lived in God’s covenant family?—and when we experience it, it is transformative.
Christina: Susan, you’ve written many books. Do you have a particular method or pattern to writing a book?
Susan: No. As I look back, I don’t think I ever started with the idea of writing a book. I think I saw a need for a specific resource for women’s ministry and then began praying about how to provide that resource. Sometimes ideas began consuming me and I knew the Lord was leading me to teach what I was learning. Writing followed teaching, so anything I have written is really collaboration with a company of redeemed women who asked questions, gave suggestions, and prayed.
Christina: Karen, this was your first experience writing a book for publication. Describe your experience.
Karen: My experience in writing the book was not unlike what I experience on a consistent basis as Susan’s spiritual daughter. She mothered me through every word and page. She was incredibly gracious and patient when doubts and discouragements paralyzed me. In a word, it was life-giving during an incredibly intense season of my life.
Christina: Tell me about the accompanying leader’s guide.
Karen: The Leader’s Guide is designed to help women teach the gospel and encourage women to share life together. It includes more than lesson plans. There are also suggestions to build community among the women. This relational component is essential to cultivate a safe, loving context to study the Word and to pray together for transformed lives that glorify God. The lesson plans are not intended for a lecture format. These are interactive studies that help you expand and apply the material in Transformed.
Christina: What do you hope women take away from this study?
Karen and Susan: As women, we can tend to crave more information so that we have all the “right answers” to life’s big questions. We can also be tempted to fall prey to the conforming pressure of this world. So our prayer is that women will be nothing less than transformed. All the while knowing that transformation is always radical, sometimes messy, but always glorious.
Christina: What are some highlights from the study? Favorite sections/quotes?
“We are products of our theology and doxology. What we esteem and elevate as praiseworthy will profoundly shape our lives. Our theology and our doxology are inseparably connected.”
“Our redemptive calling to a life-giver transcends age, life-season, marital status, time and place in history. It is big, really big! It is a lifelong adventure to “beholding the glory of the Lord (and) being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another”
The life of Christ in us gives the capacity to be life-givers. The struggle is being a life-giver in practice. Becoming a life-giver is a gift of grace; being a life-giver is life-long process of clinging to Christ rather that clinging to self.”
“We too can be life-givers to women with a sword in their soul, not denying the pain of the sword but by helping them see it in the context of the redemption planned in eternity past and accomplished by Mary’s Son. He suffered the sword of judgment so that the sword that pierces our soul will not be used to punish us but to carve us into His likeness”
Christina: Can you share some of the endorsements for the study?
Susan Hunt and Karen Hodge…give us real hope that we could be different, not trying harder, but by going deeper into God’s word and expecting His Spirit to work. – Nancy Guthrie
We all want to change and transform our lives…theologically rich, Christ- exalting, and based on our helper/life-giver design; Transformed will help you become what you behold. – Christina Fox
Reading Transformed is an opportunity to sit and lean from two gifted and godly spiritual mothers…This book is a helpful encouragement to think biblically and live covenantally. – Melissa Kruger
To learn more about the Transformed study, click here.
We have three copies of the study and accompanying leader’s guide to give away. Enter below. US residents only, please.