Kelly Hawkins joins Kep today to talk about the amazing transformation that she has been experiencing in the last several months of her life. She unpacks some of the stories of her life that led to deep shame and how the Spirit has freed her from that shame. Kelly also talks about her latest book titled “Warrior Women” and how that book has had a lasting impact.
Bio: Kelly Hawkins
Kelly Hawkins has written several books that authentically share her life experiences. She shares how God has always celebrated with her in the joys and has faithfully thrown her a lifeline to rescue her and redeem what was lost or marred. She loves to share with others about God’s love, goodness and faithfulness. Kelly has three grown children and lives with her husband in southeast Michigan.
Warrior Woman by Kelly Hawkins
Feels Like I’m Drowning by Kelly Hawkins
Loved as I Should Have Been by Kelly Hawkins
Safe, Secure, and Free by Kelly Hawkins
[00:00:28] Kep Crabb: Welcome everyone to Relational Spirituality, the podcast brought to you by Larger Story where you belong, you can become, and you will be known. I’m your host this week, Kep Crabb. Today I’m going to be talking with Kelly Hawkins. I’ve known Kelly for about, I think it’s two years now, I’m not sure. Sometime shortly after Dad had passed away, I think, is when you and I got a chance to meet. Kelly loves to create opportunities for others to experience God and His heart for them through her writing, her music, gardens, through conversations that matter, her home, and events where she serves with LifeCare Christian Center. She’s also authored several books, has three grown children, and lives with her husband in southwest Michigan. Kelly, welcome and thanks for joining me today. How are you?
[00:01:20] Kelly Hawkins: I’m good. Thanks for having me.
[00:01:22] Kep Crabb: You’re welcome. You have been helping me for the last several months with the coming Larry Crabb book, which is titled Off Track.
I was actually chatting with your husband maybe a couple weeks ago or so and we were talking about the book and the progress the book is making and when we’re hoping to get that out, which is exciting. We were talking about you, and he was using words like thriving, doing really well.
And I said to him, Dave, I’ve noticed that as well. I’ve caught the vibe from some of our email correspondences, and even your willingness to talk to me today, in this podcast, Relational Spirituality, says that there’s something going on in you. I would want to know what’s going on and what’s happening in you that seems to be making others take notice of something going on.
[00:02:14] Kelly Hawkins: I would say there’s been a lot of transformation in my spirit, since last fall, really. It goes back a lot further than that, but I wrote Warrior Woman – it’s my seventh book and the first one in a series called Warrior Woman Bootcamp. There will be three volumes of this, and the second one will come out this summer. Bootcamp was released in September 2022. I hadn’t really anticipated interviews up to that point. I know God has gifted me to write, so I’ve been focused on that. I didn’t really anticipate Him wanting to use my weaknesses so much as where He’s gifted me with strengths. But in the fall, I believe you were the first one to ask me about doing an interview and I panicked at that point.
[00:03:31] Kep Crabb: That’s what I like to do.
[00:03:32] Kelly Hawkins: I ultimately turned you down on that interview.
[00:03:41] Kep Crabb: I recall, that was fine. No pressure here. The pressure’s off.
[00:03:47] Kelly Hawkins: Thank you and I appreciate that. I felt like I would fail if I did the interview, and I felt like I would fail if I didn’t. I didn’t anticipate the second part, but once I said no, then I felt like I failed. So this time, I figured if I do it and I fail, at least I’ve tried.
[00:04:12] Kep Crabb: Kelly, thank you. Thank you for joining me today. It’s so funny as you start to unpack this. First of all, I didn’t realize you wrote seven books. I’ve got two of them here. We could go so many different directions with our conversation today. You and I have had conversations in the past about diets for different health ailments, and all these kinds of things, and I’ve really appreciated those because I do all these crazy recipes and crazy juicing drinks for my wife, who was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. Those have been hugely helpful. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Maybe that’s another show sometime down the road for us, that would be fun to chat about too.
We’re here to talk about a couple of different things, but two of the books that you’ve written, I read this one which is titled, Feels Like I’m Drowning, and the one you just referenced, Warrior Woman, which is the beginning of a series of books that you’re in the process of producing. My mother got a chance to write the intro to Warrior Woman, which was really cool for me because as I read that again, it gave me just a little glimpse into my mom and what she was going through after Dad had passed. This book really did encourage her to put on that armor and different things that you talk about, and I think it still encourages her today. So those are the two books that I’m familiar with, but can you just briefly give us a little bit of your story?
I know in one of the books you mentioned you had a brother that was battling cancer and some of these kinds of things and just give us a little taste of your story.
[00:05:43] Kelly Hawkins: Okay. My brother, it’s been almost 20 years now since he passed away. Let’s go back to the beginning.
[00:05:58] Kep Crabb: However you want to go, you go anywhere you want to go.
[00:06:00] Kelly Hawkins: I grew up in a family. There were three of us kids. My mom struggled with some emotional issues through my childhood and I was on my own in a lot of ways; at least I felt like I was on my own. Some of that was okay because I was an introvert. I learned to play guitar when I was nine, so I wrote songs and played and my parents heard me. I didn’t sing publicly at all, but they would hear me in my room, and when I was in high school my dad knew this musician; he had a country band and I grew up in the country, and my background was country. We listened to country, and the songs I played and learned how to play had a country feel and so that was comfortable to me.
[00:07:14] Kep Crabb: I love country music, girl.
[00:07:16] Kelly Hawkins: So my dad knew this guy who had a band and arranged for me to have an opportunity to sing one song at one of his performances.
I knew how to tune my guitar to itself, but I didn’t know how to tune it. I didn’t know that you were supposed to tune it to an accurate tuning method.
[00:07:40] Kep Crabb: Right, 4/40 tuning to the E right there is what you’re talking about. For sure.
[00:07:45] Kelly Hawkins: It was crazy because here I am learning to play songs in the key of G, but it’s not really in the key of G.
I don’t even know what it was in, but I go to this performance, this outdoor concert, and the musician met with me for about two minutes before we went on and he said, what key do you need? I’m like, I have no idea. So he is like, how about A? Okay. I don’t know. I didn’t have my guitar either. I was very familiar with the song that we were doing. Very familiar with it in the way I played it. I got up there on the stage microphone, started the song, and the key was too high for me. But I muddled through that. My parents were really proud of me. This was 40 years ago, so for the last 40 years, they’ve been so proud of me and they’ll bring that up at times.
But for me, what I heard was one guy – he was probably drunk actually – but one guy booing.
It could have had nothing to do with me, but that’s what I heard. I couldn’t even talk about this actually until just recently. I heard this booing and that brought humiliation and shame that I dealt with for all these years.
[00:09:35] Kep Crabb: Do you think that had anything to do with your reluctance to want to do something like this today? You used the word failure and I said to you earlier, you can’t fail at what you’re doing today. Even if we’re in the key of A or the key of B – which is higher than A – you can’t fail. I wonder how that has impacted you in respect to where you’re moving now.
[00:10:00] Kelly Hawkins: I had another situation in high school where I was in the spotlight again. In that situation, I didn’t feel like I really belonged there. It was a pageant. I was encouraged by my parents to do it, I think they wanted to get me out of my isolation. They helped me get involved in this Miss Teen pageant. Again, it’s something that I haven’t talked about in 40 years until just recently. With this pageant, I didn’t know how to do hair and makeup but all these other girls did and that gave me a sense of shame. I wasn’t stylish. I had hand-me-down gowns or resale shop gowns that I was wearing and these other girls were dressed very stylishly. So again, I felt shame. I didn’t see myself as a good communicator and these other girls, they were – more shame. I wasn’t a dancer. There was a dancing part of this. I think there were 300 girls in this and we had this dance routine, but it wasn’t me and it brought shame. All of that shame gave me a lack of confidence, which created more shame. I knew I didn’t fit there, but I also came to this conclusion that I didn’t fit in at that country place either, because that’s where I thought I fit before there was this booing that convinced me that I don’t fit there either.
I determined from all that that my conclusion was, if the spotlight is on me, I’m going to be humiliated, and that humiliation will bring shame. If you told me, I want to interview you, but you’re going to be humiliated in this interview, of course I’m not going to do it. Or I’m just white knuckling it and determine I’m going to do this, but with the belief that I’m going to be humiliated, it’s going to impact the way I portray myself. It’s going to impact my mind. Which is actually what happened in another interview that I told you about last fall. I did white knuckle it and enter into this interview, but I still held that conclusion about shame and humiliation and trying to work through that. My brain would just freeze because there’s just too much emotion there and I can’t deal with it. That’s what I was dealing with when you invited me to do an interview last fall. Since then I’ve been on this journey to invite God into that place and explore what’s going on there. What are the deeper issues? I know the Apostle Paul said be transformed – I think it was Paul – be transformed by the renewing of your mind. I need my mind renewed here because I believe that I’m going to be humiliated if I open my mouth if I’m in the spotlight. There’s just too much shame in that for me to deal with.
Last January I was in Florida doing some ministry down there for a week, and at the end of the week I had a full day that I didn’t have anything to do and I committed that whole day to exploring this stuff with God, and it was a very emotional day. There were a lot of tears. But it was a beautiful day as well because I took all this stuff from that country concert that I did and the pageant that I did and those messages that I got from those, I took those to God and told Him what I was feeling and invited Him in to speak to me about this and give me clarity in my own thoughts. What I determined was, that belief that I’ll be humiliated in the spotlight was really deeper than that. It came down to a belief that the way I’m designed is unacceptable and it’s wrong. I believed I was designed wrong.
It was quite the accusation to God in that realization that I wasn’t designed right. He did something wrong here in the way He designed me because my strengths don’t fit in in the environment in which I live. My strengths don’t fit there, and this is what I had believed. I feel like I was made for a different environment, a different world. I heard Him in my spirit, I heard Him speak to me. You were created for a different world. I said to Him, then why am I here as I am? What I heard from Him was to show the world who I am. That stopped me in my tracks, but the next thing really broke my heart. It does make me a little emotional, but what I heard was, because you don’t trust who I created you to be, you live with a veiled presence. That’s not what I intended for you. I just had to spend quite a while just sitting with that and feeling it, exploring it and then letting God speak into that more about how He created me and what He intended for me. Through the rest of that day, I just got more and more comfortable with accepting who I am as He created me to be, that I don’t have to fit in someplace or be what other people are because we’re all created uniquely. That uniqueness fits His purpose.
One big example that came to mind for me was Nick, if you’re familiar with him, the man with no arms and no legs. When he was in high school, he tried to take his own life. He believed he was created wrong. He didn’t have any arms, he didn’t have any legs and he tried to drown himself.
But God was able to get a hold of his life, and now he speaks to large audiences, large groups of people, and probably has more impact than almost every pastor. He’s just amazing. To look at his example, he could easily say, I was made wrong. I don’t have the body parts, the arms, the legs to serve you, God, as I think I need to serve you. And yet he’s taking what God has given him and using it to bring honor and glory and tell his story and tell God’s story. I’m recognizing that He’s called me to something unique and purposeful; I don’t want to tell Him that He’s made a mistake in how He’s designed me because He knows the purpose.
If it’s in being a slow thinker, sometimes a slow processor, sometimes or just having difficulty communicating, then so be it. But like with Moses, I don’t want to be the one who says no, I’m not going to be willing to be used by you.
[00:20:02] Kep Crabb: I love that, Kelly. I just want to say, I think it’s awesome that you’re joining me today and that you’ve “jumped off your cliff” – to use one of Dad’s metaphors – and how you’re open to doing this for the glory of the Lord. That just is so beautiful. It’s interesting, we were supposed to be talking today about SoulTalk, which is what we’re talking about as you unpack your story. I feel like I know you a little bit better now, but it takes me back to , as I hear your story, the Feels Like I’m Drowning book. I know Warrior Women is another piece too, but this was a very poignant and important book I thought, because you talk about desperate, dark times, dry bones and Ezekiel weariness. But then you shift a little bit as you progress and there’s the anchor, there’s some stuff dealing with softening of the heart, the gift of the journey.
I just want to read something to our listeners really quickly in your book here that’s in the forward written by a close friend. It says, “Living an abundant life is about using the few short years I have here to bring glory to God and display a life of beautiful freedom as He intended for me to have. It’s about living responsibly, wisely and fully. It’s about opening my hands and giving Him everything I hold on to, everything I have accomplished, everything that’s wonderful in my life, as well as everything that’s painful or worrisome and all my struggles. And after that I can let Him fill me up and then pour out everything I have in order to love Him and love others fully.”
I just think that’s really cool. Another thing you had in this book, Kelly, that kind of left a print on me is you have relational, spiritual, emotional, and physical silos that you talk about in that book. It took me back to my dad years ago as he was writing the book, Connecting, which contains my story and where Dad introduces the four circles – personal, rational, volitional, emotional – 4 areas that make up who we are.
As I hear you start to talk about your own story as we jump into Warrior Woman, just for a second here, when you said that you felt like God didn’t create you the way you were supposed to be created. I love how you’re fighting for women in this, but this book really does apply to men too.
There’s a lot of principles in here that I think are important, but just talk a little bit about what’s going on in the world today and how some of that stuff that’s happening in regards to people feeling like, God, you messed up. You didn’t do it right with me. I didn’t have that feeling and I’m just curious to dive into that a little bit with you if you’re willing to let me do that.
All that’s going on in respect to Warrior Women – and I think these really go well in regards to SoulTalk too – you talked about in your story how you felt like, because of shame, because of different things, that you were made wrong, which I think is not correct. You were made in the image of God perfectly and how you are. I think we see a lot of that in today’s culture, in people saying, I feel like I wasn’t made right, God. Maybe not saying that literally because they’re not even believing that, but just saying to themselves, I’m not made right.
How did you move through that in a way – and you talked a little bit about it – that allows you to understand that you were made in the image of God?
[00:23:36] Kelly Hawkins: I talked about where Paul says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Years ago I became familiar with Inner Healing Prayer. It’s really just talking to God, learning to talk to God and listen to His response. It’s exploring. It’s starting with how you feel and understanding that those feelings impact your behavior. As I’m pursuing transformation in myself I just want to align myself with how God is thinking. I may have this idea that I was created wrong or is designed wrong but He’s the one that knows better. If I can align with His thinking, then my mind will be transformed and I can align with His purposes for me in that.
[00:24:48] Kep Crabb: That seems to be happening in you. What are you doing? How is that happening?
[00:24:53] Kelly Hawkins: It’s exploring what I’m feeling. Actually, I have another example that is a pretty simple example.
About 12 years ago, I was stung by a bee, which doesn’t sound like a big deal. I was stung a lot when I was a kid. Growing up in the country it wasn’t a big deal. It was painful at times, but not a big deal. But about 12 years ago, I was doing a little gardening and working in some landscaping. I reached into the wrong spot, didn’t realize there was a wasp nest, and got stung. I didn’t even see the bee at the time, but I certainly felt it and I thought, oh, I haven’t been stung in years, I forgot what it feels like, this isn’t comfortable, I’ll go in the house. I was home alone at the time and I went in the house. I don’t remember if my kids were there at the time or not, but Dave wasn’t home – my husband – and he got home right after this. God was watching over me and that, I believe. I was doing some things to wash it off, trying to make sure there was no stinger in me, that kind of thing. I started getting itchy, and then I was getting more itchy. My head was itching and my whole body was starting to itch, and I said, I’m not sure what’s going on here, but maybe we should go to the hospital, just to get it checked.
A few minutes later we’re on our way to the hospital; it was about 10 minutes away. About two minutes into our drive, I lost my hearing. Everything was muffled as if someone had my ears covered. Probably another 30 seconds later I lost my vision. Everything turned white. I told Dave, I think you should call 911. We’re on our way to the hospital, but I think you should call 911. He’s like right now? Yes, right now. So he calls 911 and he’s on the phone driving. He said, I think I should drive fast. I could hear, but it was muffled and the only thing I could see was white. We’re driving and he’s on the phone with 911, one hand on the steering wheel, and according to him, I pass out at that point. My seatbelt was on, but I fell forward in my seat and he’s trying to push me back up.
There’s another story I tell in one of my other books about this incident and how, for the next two miles of the drive, I had this vision or experience where I was standing with Jesus and enveloped in His presence. He was speaking into my fears. There’s more to it, you can read it in the book. I came out of that experience feeling very uninhibited, like fears didn’t control me for a short time after that.
I got to the hospital and my body temperature was really low and they couldn’t get a reading on that. Basically, my body was shutting down to where I was dying.
Fast forward, I get out of the hospital a couple days later and within a couple weeks I’m able to get myself to go out to that spot where I was stung, just to see, was it really a bee, was that really what was there? I could see some bees flying in and out of that spot,so now I know to stay away from that.
I don’t remember how long it was, but some time went by and there was this fear of bees. Then the next summer comes and I’m very tentative about even being in the yard or going out. I didn’t want to be controlled by that. So I pursued that with God. I’m like, okay, I have this fear, and I had to explore what the fear was: if I go out, if I get stung again, I’m going to die. I had an EpiPen by then, but still, I had this belief that if I get stung, I’m going to die.
So I walked through that with God, and allowed Him to speak into that. What He spoke to was reminding me of what He did to keep me alive when I didn’t know that I would die if I got stung. He was sovereign over that initial situation and took me through it. He brought my husband home at the right time to take me to the hospital. He just had it all in His control and He wasn’t ready for me to die at that point. He kept me here and He reminded me that He is in control. I’m not going to be unwise, I’ll have my EpiPen around in case I need it, or I’ll do what I need to do in response, but I’m not afraid of bees anymore. Usually other people are more afraid than I am if they know that I’m allergic. I can be in my sunroom, and every once in a while there will be a wasp in there looking for a way out. Even just a couple days ago, I had a friend over and I walked out there and she said, there’s a bee there, be careful! And I’m like, oh yeah. I took a piece of paper and I’m trying to gently move it out. I just don’t have that fear anymore because I allowed God to speak into that, that He is sovereign over my circumstances.
[00:32:53] Kep Crabb: Did you say this was recently? I know just a few months ago when you and I were talking about doing this, you were reluctant and said, no, I don’t think I’m going to. I was fine, of course, but you changed your mind. When did all this start to happen?
[00:33:08] Kelly Hawkins: The bee sting thing was like 12 years ago. That was a long time ago. But the speaking stuff, it’s always been a struggle for me. I can even go back to kindergarten and report cards. I actually got a report card in kindergarten – I don’t know if they still do that.
[00:33:34] Kep Crabb: I don’t know.
[00:33:36] Kelly Hawkins: Kindergarten, first grade, second grade. All my teachers would write on my report cards, Kelly’s very sweet, but she doesn’t talk. They would see me playing outside and I would play normally and yell and talk to my friends outside, but then I got inside and whenever I felt like the spotlight was on me, that’s where I shut down.
[00:34:05] Kep Crabb: It’s interesting because I think my first grade, second grade, third grade teacher said, Kep talks too much and he’s not very sweet. Maybe we have a different way there, but we could balance each other out. I’m just really grateful that you were willing to do this, willing to step into this. I think this is a testament to what the Holy Spirit’s doing in your life.
I think it goes back to what we talked about at the beginning of the conversation where, other people, me being one of those, is seeing how the Holy Spirit is working in your life. Your husband’s seeing the same thing according to the conversation we had a few weeks ago. I love that because I think something’s happening with me too, Kelly, and something’s going on. God is on the move. It seems oftentimes that the world is on fire.
I think it reminds me of Esther. You talk about Esther in Warrior Woman and it reminds me of the time where the Israelites are just a little bit away from being completely destroyed and wiped off. And then God said, no, I’m coming in and I’m going to change everything. I’m in charge here. My story’s not going to be thwarted by anything that happens. I’m just really grateful that you took the time to chat with me today. Tell us really quickly, how can we get Warrior Woman and Feels Like I’m Drowning and the other books that you’ve written?
Maybe we can send a link out to some of the people that watch if they’re interested in getting some of those. Of the two I’ve read, I would strongly recommend them. How do we get those, Kelly?
[00:35:35] Kelly Hawkins: They can be ordered on Amazon. That’s the main place.
[00:35:39] Kep Crabb: Just Amazon standard stuff?
[00:35:40] Kelly Hawkins: Just Amazon. There are other Kelly Hawkins out there – I think one’s a physical therapist and has some books – but mine are: Warrior Woman, It Feels Like I’m Drowning, Loved as I Should Have Been, and Safe, Secure, and Free. Those are the four most recent ones, they’re all on Amazon.
[00:36:09] Kep Crabb: Kelly, thank you so much for this time together. I’m really grateful that you mustered the courage and you allowed yourself to come in here. I want to say right away, this was no failure, that’s for sure. I think you blessed me just in hearing you talk and I feel like I know you a little bit better now and that’s kind of part of what we’re trying to do with these podcasts on relational spirituality.
So folks, thanks for joining us today. Stick around next Tuesday, you’ll get another podcast episode of Relational Spirituality, brought to you by Larger Story. Have a great day.