A Heart of Grace and Hope – Meet Dixie Phillips…
Interview by Debbie Porter
FWM: Dixie, I think many of your readers would feel that they already know a bit about you just through the things you write and the way you write them – but we’d love to know more. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
DIXIE: Let’s see……. I am a pastor’s wife in a small rural community in Iowa. We have been here for twenty-four years. My husband and I have four children. Rachel is 26 and a teacher at Lighthouse Academy, a Christian school ministry in our church. John is 24 and graduated from college with a business administration degree and is trying to get into management. Beka is 18 and just finished her first year at Master’s Commission in Kansas City. She senses a call to a praise and worship ministry and at this very moment is preparing for a youth conference where she will be leading between 3,000-4,000 young people into the Presence of the King. And last but not least, Libby Lois. She is 16 and the "writer" of the family. She feels a call to missions. So we shall see what God has for her in the years ahead.
My husband and I thought that Floyd, Iowa, would be a "stepping stone" to bigger and better dreams that God had for us. But we soon discovered that LITTLE IS MUCH when God is in it. We are honored to serve JESUS in this tiny village (population 360 people). God has taught us to bloom where we are planted and He has blessed us richly.
I also love to sing and write songs. I sing in a southern Gospel ladies’ trio.
FWM: There’s a very obvious love for family in your writing and you often feature stories that come from events in the history of various family members. Do you find most of your inspiration coming from these stories of life passed down the generations?
DIXIE: My parents had a very troubled marriage, which eventually led to a divorce. Because of their severe turmoil I was tossed from one grandparents’ home to the other when I was growing up. I was the baby of the family of three children. I have two older brothers that I love with all my heart. One of the most painful hurts I endured as a child was being separated from them. I remember riding a school bus home to my grandparents’ home in the country and looking out the window and seeing my brothers walking home together. I almost burst into sobs. I missed them so.
So, I feel God has given me a mandate to write about family from personal experiences. Family is an eternal gift from God, and I love true stories that give hope to the hopeless. I was in a hopeless situation as a little girl and somehow JESUS passed by and changed my destiny.
FWM: You’ve only been at FaithWriters’ a relatively short time, just since January this year, but you’ve managed to make quite an impression in that time – particularly in the weekly Writing Challenges. In fact, during the last quarter of the Challenge, you actually placed in the Editors’ Choice Awards five times out of nine entries – the only author to appear in the winners’ circle that often that quarter. That’s quite an achievement. Had you been writing long before you came to FaithWriters?
DIXIE: I started writing children’s plays for our church twenty-four years ago because the little church couldn’t afford to spend money on plays. I wrote for all the major holidays, Christmas, Easter, Mother and Father’s Day, etc. But I never really wrote about my life’s experiences until I came to FaithWriters. I had just been through a very traumatic experience with my stepmother’s death and for "therapy’s sake" felt I should sit down and write about it. I really wrote it more for my own sanity than for others to read, but I’ve found that the pain I had experienced was UNIVERSAL. I’ve had many responses from my testimony of THE FROST KING.
My two brothers have always been the writers in the family and have much larger gifts than I do. But when I came to FaithWriters I received so much affirmation that it gave me the confidence to keep writing. FaithWriters has opened doors for me that I never dreamed were possible.
FWM: The Frost King is an amazingly honest piece of writing Dixie and I’m not surprised that it’s melted more than a few hearts since you first shared it. You mentioned that you wrote it specifically as therapy. Do you find this happening quite often as you write – God ministering to you as you minister to others?
DIXIE: Yes, it seems that it is just as the Bible teaches in the Book of Corinthians, that when we get through something and God comforts us, that then HE in return allows us to comfort others with that same comfort that HE has comforted us with. I think that’s what happened with THE FROST KING…. As JESUS so graciously came to me and helped me to forgive… it seems those who read it seem to feel their need to forgive, too, and somehow God ministers Spirit to spirit; His Holy Spirit to our needy spirit. AMAZING LOVE!
FWM: You have an illustrated children’s book due for release in the near future. I’d love to hear about that.
DIXIE: I had written a story for children a few years ago entitled FROM HEAVEN’S EYES. It’s written from Heaven’s point of view about Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. The illustrations have taken quite a while to get done, but I just heard from the publisher yesterday and he said that at 7:00 this morning they will know more about where they are at with it. He hopes to have it released for Easter 2006.
FWM: With a children’s book under your belt, do you have any plans or dreams to write a book for adults?
DIXIE: The type of writing I feel God leading me to is inspirational and the kind of stuff that causes the chords of the heart to vibrate where there has only been silence before. I guess that’s why I really enjoy FaithWriters so much because everybody has a story and reading some of the other author’s stories just blesses me. It stirs something "down deep" on the inside of me. I would love to write for adults, who have been broken by life, and tell them my story. If JESUS can take a little girl with a broken heart and keep HIS precious hand on her life and guide her step by step and get her to where He wants her……. Oh my!!! He can do anything with anybody! It’s just like my grandma used to sing about, "IT IS NO SECRET WHAT GOD CAN DO! WHAT HE’S DONE FOR OTHERS HE’LL DO FOR YOU!!!"
I guess I have personally experienced JESUS giving me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the Spirit of heaviness. I will never stop writing HIS PRAISES or telling of HIS GOODNESS!
FWM: Amen to that!
So, in the midst of the busyness of life as a pastor’s wife, mom to four, writer and singer, what’s your ideal way to relax and unwind?
DIXIE: There are days I feel like I am running on fumes! So, down time is very important to me. I love to just find a quiet place and read a favorite author, Amy Carmichael or F.B. Meyer. Also, I am a southern Gospel music fan and love to attend Gaither Homecomings or just watch a Gaither video.
My best friend in the whole world is my husband, Paul. When life gets too busy we try to slip away. We like to get near water of some kind. A family in our church has a little place by the Mississippi River and they let us "steal away" and get our batteries recharged.
FWM: Dixie, thank you so much for allowing us this time with you. You are such a blessing through the things you write and I really do pray that God will continue to take your work and place it in the hands of those who need to be encouraged.
You can read more of Dixie’s work by visiting her Member Page at FaithWriters: http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=10561
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