Lori Ann Wood is Dr. Brad Miller’s guest on Episode 264 of “The Beyond Adversity Podcast.”
Lori Ann is the author of Divine Detour: The Path You Didn’t Choose Can Lead to the Faith You’ve Always Wanted.
Lori Ann has won the Frederick Buechner Narrative Essay Award as well as awards from the Evangelical Press Association and Write His Answer Ministries. Her work has been published in numerous print and online venues, including The New York Times, The Christian Century magazine, Just Between Us Magazine, The Joyful Life Magazine, Bella Grace Magazine, Pepperdine University Press, and Truly Magazine.
In this episode, Lori Ann shares about her detour and how God used these questions to grow her faith deeper.
Lori Ann is a heart failure survivor. Having discovered a serious heart condition almost too late, Lori Ann encourages others to embrace their deep faith questions along the detours of life.
But it was not an easy journey for Lori Ann. She was a lifelong believer who was deeply disappointed in the God she thought she knew. And in her book, Divine Detour, Lori Ann makes a bold decision to embrace those difficult questions, wanting answers but more importantly, needing permission to ask them. Lori Ann talks about her hard-won insights and invites you to join her on a 40-day journey deep into the heart of a God who doesn’t always behave as we would like.
I guess it was just being naive before this happened or I was kind of living a dream life. But we lost several family members, I had had things happen, but I had never felt like my life was completely thrown off course before. So that's, I think, one of the things that when you get thrown off on that side road, you think about a detour. It's not the prettiest road, it's not the quickest road. It's, it's not the smoothest road. But often, it's there's a good reason you're on that detour. There was a time when I was on a cross country trip with my daughter when she first graduated my oldest had just gotten out of college and had an opportunity in the northeastern United States for the summer. And I we decided we would drive there from Arkansas, which is like a two-day trip. We got we got like 30 minutes from our house. And this crazy rain came just torrential rain. And it was a flooding event we later learned when we got to our hotel that night. But somewhere about 30 minutes from the house, we got detoured, and spent almost one whole day in the back roads, just kind of wandering around, following this long line of cars. And at the time, we were frustrated by that we have this long road trip we had planned we had tails but what happened was when I was on that detour with my daughter, we stopped at museums, we wouldn't have, we ate at restaurants we eat and we had this extra day together, that looking back now how valuable and when we think about the trip, that's our bed, those are our best memories now,Dr. Brad Miller:
and that's your story, you've got a great story to tell now, don't you? And a great exactly a great warm memory with your daughter. I was interested to see here loriana. But how you even organized your book, you've got these sections about the worry and so on. But rather than that, it's the it's 4040 chapters, which you call days, day one and so on through 40 days, to tell them that seemed like it'd be there's a progression. And there's a thinking and there's a strategy here. Tell me about that in terms of how that worked out and how this played out and helping you process these three questions.Lori Ann Wood:
Yes. As I started looking at all of the questions and putting them into those three buckets, and then finding that that parallels so closely to Jesus's journey into the desert, those his 40 days, I started really looking at 40. And, you know, in Scripture 40 is for sure, a number of the represents trial and testing. You know, we see that with Moses in the desert, or the Israelites wandering for 40 years. You know, Noah was in the ark surviving for 40 days, and Jonah etc, and then the 40 days with Jesus in the desert. I knew it was a time of testing, which I felt intensely but also 40 in the Bible is also God's environment for change. It's for that time where he sets it up to complete the story. And you know, one of the examples of that is 40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven. 40 is God's environment to make the change that needs to be made. I knew that that 40 needed to be the basis of my book, in a way,Dr. Brad Miller:
I think it's awesome. And I'm a big, big believer in effect. If I didn't notice the name of the company, my company, the name of my company is the 40-day way, because I use this same metaphor, and the book I'm writing in that which has to do with 40 days of change as well. And I think there's even there's even Love, data and research not only from a biblical perspective, but from a life Chase perspective, you know, you need six weeks or so of kind of a focused effort to make any life change, you know, losing weight, getting your financial house on order, making decisions about relationships. If you focus on something for 40 days, or about six weeks, you can usually get something done to get some, some change done. I think that's awesome. Because what you're saying here, the detour did not lead to the ditch, or is it being stuck, the detour will still lead you to your I like to call the promise life, but to your destination, which is where you're at now. So, tell me a little bit more about this, in the sense of the detail was, at the end, it was a new beginning. So, what is your new beginnings? Or what are some of now the processes, so their habits or your life now, as opposed to before,Lori Ann Wood:
right, like I mentioned my days, much shorter, you know, COVID, was terrible for most people. For me, it was a time where I was able to really focus on what I was doing, because I as a heart failure patient, I was in the high-risk group and, and wasn't really getting out at all. So, I was able to focus on what was going on with my book with my writing, and really make some really good progress. I think that was another little detour that was thrown in on top of it that I wasn't expecting, but was helpful. So theDr. Brad Miller:
whole the whole basket, the whole mask and isolation thing. That was terrible for the rest of us, not too bad thing for you all things considered. Is that right?Lori Ann Wood:
That's right, I, you know, I work from home now. So that that didn't change anything. And it focused everybody else back home, onto the computer. And a lot of resources became available to me that wouldn't have otherwise.Dr. Brad Miller:
So what are some lessons learned that can be applicable to other people? We've mentioned here a couple of times., Lori Ann, not everybody handles it, too? Well, you know, there's plenty of heart patients, use an example, give up and say, forget about it, and throw in the towel, so to speak. What are some lessons learned or some transferable principles from your experience, they're going to be helpful to other people going through their own detours.Lori Ann Wood:
One of the things I heard the quote is, not all storms come to destroy your life. Some storms come to clear your path. And I think that is one of the things that happened for me, because I was there were some things for sure, taken off my plate that were not options anymore. There were some closed doors. I for one don't like closed doors at all. And I tried to figure out what's the Where can I find a crowbar to pry that back open? What I've found is sometimes those closed doors can be more merciful than open one, not only do they focus you they clear your path so that you don't have things distracting you. But they also bypass all those less than perfect doors to get to the one that you're meant to be at, you know, we have this idea of how our life should go. And I think one of my hang ups early on was in that second question about is God always good. I was equating God's goodness, with how closely my life was matching my plan. If things were going according to my plan, God was good. They weren't God wasn't good. Which is ridiculous, right?Dr. Brad Miller:
I'm sure you've heard the same phrase. You know, if you're gonna make God laugh, tell him your plan. You've heard that type of things. Yeah.Lori Ann Wood:
For sure, I think that's one thing is that you could look at closed doors as Oh, I can't go in that door. Or you can look at it as now my path is a little bit more defined. Now my area is smaller for me to concentrate on. And that's what I'm going to do and, and that's what I've been able to comfort it given looking at my life, I don't think I would have taken the time to write in a safer, healthier life. I just wouldn't have had the urgency to do it. You wouldDr. Brad Miller:
have caught up in whatever was going on your life, your teaching and your family life, whatever it would be a detour led you to this place of closed door which allowed you to process these things. Is that a fair way of looking at it? Yes, exactly. Because you do you deal with this where you were told about the area of doubt here your question of doubt. And I think a lot of people have that, you know, when the door closes, it can lead to despair for some of us. And you chose a life of faith. And I'd like you to speak to that a little bit. But there is a one particular thing you talk about here in your book. And I'd like to speak to this because I'm curious on day 22 You call it the recency syndrome, and it's an italic in the table of contents. unpack that for us here and the context of this question of doubt, the recency syndrome, theLori Ann Wood:
recency syndrome was something I actually He taught when I was teaching in the business department colleges, and that is when you are a supervisor in a business setting, and you're doing performance evaluations, there's a psychological tendency to only recall what recently happened with that employee. Okay. If they had a bad day, last week, their evaluation goes down, even though the whole rest of the year they were doing stellar. And the same thing, flipside of that can happen, somebody can just be barely performing, and then have a wonderful day right before evaluation and get a really good evaluation. Well, we have to be careful of that in a business setting. But I think even more so when it comes to faith, because what we tend to do as human beings, because we have notoriously short memories. And that's why in Scripture, it says, Remember, remember so many times is that we tend to think of God's goodness, as whatever recently happened to us. If I recently got a poor report on my heart, then that's, you know, God's not good. He's he doesn't answer prayers, even though if we looked at it in the long account, we could see it differently.Dr. Brad Miller:
Well, that helps us to give an understanding that God's love is not only what happened to us today, it's broad. It's long, it's wide, it's deep, deep, and long as white is the love of God, even in the midst of doubt. And, hey, when people go through adversity in the moment, what do they often cry out? Why me? Or why God? Why did this happen to me? I kind of had my own episode of that here. Recently. In December, I was diagnosed with cancer and some heart conditions as well. And so suddenly, you have to deal with the reality before you and it was a slap in the face for water on your situation, get your attention, because of the momentary circumstances that you're in. But you do not have to the circumstances is not the long play of the album. Lori Aann, who's this? What do you want to reach with this book? Who's a targeted for who's? Who do you want to see go into that bookstore at Barnes and Nobles. Org, see it on the Amazon list? And it's going to jump right in? And who do you want this book to be for?Lori Ann Wood:
I want this to be for the long-term believer who has I grew up in the church, I was raised in a faithful home raised my children there. And I was embarrassed at my point in my life to say, I still have these questions. And they're very basic questions. I want those people who have been believers for a long time that still have questions that still have things they want to ask God that don't seem to add up. I want those people to, to not find my book and say, there's going to be the answer to my question. But that pick up my book and says, there's my permission to ask the question. I can, no matter how long I've been a Christian, no matter what I'm going through, when I'm questioning God, and you talked about it being in Scripture, you know, the Psalms, half of those are lament, that's our lifeline to God when we're on a detour the questions so I just want anyone on what they consider to be a detour in life to be able to ask those questions. Because that is what keeps your faith alive. When you're on that difficult detour.Dr. Brad Miller:
It's important that we do that sometimes that you got to you can curse 32 Or you can curse the fact that you got a flood, you know, floodwaters came and you had to go off into different pathway. You can see okay, what can we do here about this? I pastor I mentioned to you about this two year old boy in my church who passed away I don't know the whole story, but tragedy, and the pastor stopped that regular sermon series that he was in and said, We're going to have a Sunday of lament, basically, and it was appropriate, because he does what you need to do. Because healing does not take place. Until we grief and process the doubt. We have to do both. And that's very biblical thing to have doubts, and to process the doubt move to a different place. If we don't change, we stay stuck. And that's when the real question comes. And I love the way you framed us about the questions because the question was vague. You need to respond to the question to get an answer. If we're worried, question, worry, what are we going to respond? To not worry, you know, the Bible says don't worry, okay, but people do it anyhow. So, it really the distractions of the Bible are how do you deal with the worry, you know, the question of doubt, there's doubt throughout the Bible, how do you deal with this and have faith and the question of control If we're feeling like we have lack of purpose and lack of direction, what do we do to find that promise life or that promised land? When I say that, that kind of leads me to round two, beyond diversity about and what you're sharing here is really about lives that are changed for the better, as opposed to staying kind of stuck Google the last couple years has had they, at the end of the year, they have, you know, one of the most search for terms a year ago, so it was the most one of the most searched search for four terms was how can I heal? You know, come in of COVID. In this year, it was, how can I change? You know, how can I get on to the next thing, keeping in mind now Lori Aann, that person who you're writing this book for, I like to share with from your story who this book or your teaching, or your leadership has been impactful and change. I'm looking for a testimonyLori Ann Wood:
in during the launch of my book brought in people from just different walks of life, there are some young people and old people and people I know people I don't know, one of the things I think is so helpful when we do that is we say, wow, I'm not alone, I get I am hearing your story in my story. And I'm getting that. And so, when we're walking along with somebody on that detour, we are not only you know, we're not only telling God, this detour is not going to steal my faith. But we're also saying to that person, I'm walking this with you. And that's what I think I think that's the gift that we get from, from God more than and I had to learn this, like, wow, how did I get to be 51 years old and not know this, the purpose of prayer, I always considered it to be a way to gain control of God's hand, right? If I can pray enough, maybe I can gain control of God's hand. But really, I think what more than that it is, it's God getting into us enough and, and we becoming companions with him enough to where we open up our hand, and we give him what's in our hand instead of trying to trying to control his and, and I think that is one of the biggest advantages. We walk with someone else on this path they didn't choose because we all know people. And we're all going to be on the detour.Dr. Brad Miller:
Well, some awesome reflections here, the divine detour of and I believe that this is the type of thing that can be a tool by which can be a helpful tool for someone going through this similar experience or some other detour. If we're going to see this as a tool. How can people get a hold of this tool, how tell our listeners on beyond adversity, how they can learn more about you, and about your book, and about anything else that you offer?Lori Ann Wood:
My website is loriannwood. And on that website, you will find a Books page that has all the ordering information for my book. And it's also available on Amazon. One of the things if you want to go directly to the book page, it's Lori Ann wood.com/books. Also, there'll be a companion journal available that will allow people to not only read the book and reflect if they're someone that likes to write and, and doesn't want to write in the book, there's a companion journal that draws out some of the questions and basic ideas of the book. And I did find some promises in the Scripture and I put those together. That's a free resource for anybody that wants those on my website. And that's it. Lori Ann wood.com/hopeDr. Brad Miller:
We'll put connections to all that and our website, Dr. Brad miller.com. Well, the book is called divine detour and it's subtitled, the path you'd never choose can lead to the faith you've always wanted. Her name is Lori Ann wood. It's her first book, I got a feeling. There's gonna be more good things coming from Lori Ann wood down the road, but she's been our guest today, and we're privileged to have her here on the beyond diversity podcast. Lori Ann wood. Thanks for being our guest today on beyond diversity