Welcome to "The Cross & the Pen," Crosswalk.com's author-to-author interview column!

I have a saying and it goes like this: When I grow up, I want to be Carol Kent.

Not that I want Carol's family or ministry or exquisite beauty, but rather that I want to be a woman who, like Carol, is a woman of God who wears grace and wisdom like a lace scarf draped about her strong shoulders.

Carol's beauty goes beyond a smile that can melt a bad mood in a skinny minute or eyes that twinkle with some hidden mischief. Her beauty begins at the very core of her being; that part of her which begins and ends with God. And that's what I want people to see in me.

Recently, Carol and I got together to talk about her new book When I Lay My Isaac Down (NavPress 2004), a work I believe every Christian whose faith has ever been shaken or will ever be shaken should read. As David Jeremiah  (founder of Turning Point Ministries) stated, "[This] is a book about the worst pain that a parent could ever experience and the grace of God that sustains us when that pain never goes away. Carol Kent has laid open her broken heart and proven that triumph can exist in tragedy. This brook will break your heart as it strengthens your faith."

Wanna listen in?

Eva Marie: Carol, let's talk a minute before we get into your book. Would you tell my readers a little bit about you, your family and your ministry?

Carol: I'm the oldest of six who observed our father leave a good paying job in the business world to go back to Bible school and accept God's call on his life to go into the ministry. He led Gene (the man who eventually became my husband) to the Lord when he was 17 years old. We both left for different universities after graduating from high school, and two months after we earned our undergraduate degrees, we walked down the aisle and my preacher daddy "tied the knot." We were dirt poor, had education debts to pay off...but we had lots of love!

I eventually became a speech, drama and English teacher in a public school setting and had many opportunities to influence my students with biblical truth.  Gene went into the insurance business and we were youth directors in a local church.

Five years after our marriage, I gave birth to our first and only child, Jason Paul Kent. I took a leave from teaching and found myself in a neighborhood where many women were raising young children and had many challenges in their marriages. I started my first Bible study around my kitchen table with five neighborhood women and I taught them biblical principles on marriage.

That Bible study spawned a progression that led to where I am today. In time, I noticed many of the women in my Bible class had a story to tell (their personal testimony), but they didn't know how to structure it so it could be shared with others. Some loved the Bible, but didn't know how to teach it. My background includes an undergraduate degree in Speech Education and a master's degree in Communication Arts, so I took what I knew about teaching speech and what I knew about the Bible and launched the Speak Up With Confidence seminar that is now held in many cities across the country and in a few selected cities abroad.

An editor came to one of those seminars and told me she thought this seminar had book potential and asked me to submit a proposal.  It was accepted and my first book was Speak Up With Confidence (first published by Thomas Nelson, now published by NavPress).

God was opening many doors for me as a retreat and conference speaker and my research to prepare for those speaking engagements, along with my quiet time with the Lord produced the material for many more books:  Secret Longings of the Heart, Tame Your Fears, Becoming a Woman of Influence, Mothers Have Angel Wings, Detours, Tow Trucks, and Angels in Disguise, the six book Designed for Influence Bible studies series (co-authored with Karen Lee-Thorp), and my most recent book, When I Lay My Isaac Down.