by Tracy Darlington
Paige Omartian Interview
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wherever we are, we cannot begin to find our purpose if we don’t
have a relationship with the Lord. Once He is Lord of our life and we
are saved by His grace, we can begin to understand why we’re here
and the specific calling that God has given us… which I call, our
Paige Omartian is a speaker and recording artist whose battle with cancer as a child led her on a remarkable journey inspiring others to grasp the preciousness of life and live out their purpose. She has traveled the country sharing her music and story and was featured on Bath and Body Work’s 2005 Christmas CD supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Paige was interviewed on the Today Show and was the speaker and TV host for the ministry iShine. She released her debut rock album, Wake Up, in 2009 (under Paige Armstrong).
you to write “Wake
When I was 11 years old, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. This was shocking, because I had been a totally healthy girl, just involved in the normal life of a kid. Everything I had known was stripped from me as I was thrown into my new home: the hospital. I received chemotherapy treatments that made me horribly sick and made all of my hair fall out, as well as a surgery to replace five inches of the bone where the tumor was. In other words, I became bald and confined to a wheelchair for that year. Not only was my world turned upside down, but I didn’t even recognize myself when I looked in the mirror.
But God is so amazing. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it was His plan all along to bring about an amazing purpose through my pain. God used my experience with cancer to awaken me. Being face to face with death opened my eyes to how precious life is and how it can be snatched from us at any moment. I decided that if God spared me and healed me of cancer--which, ultimately, He did–I wouldn’t waste my time here on earth.
After I was officially pronounced “cancer-free”, it felt like I was walking back into the world as an alien. My perspective on life had just completely changed and I no longer saw things as a “normal” 12 year old anymore. Mingling with students at school was suddenly a culture-shock for me as I noticed how many in my generation were living in apathy. I had just spent a year in the hospital with kids who were daily fighting for their lives, so it was heartbreaking to see many perfectly healthy kids blowing their days because they didn’t know how much their lives were worth.
God began to write a message on my heart to encourage my generation to wake up to their God-given purpose and to not waste a second of this life. James 4:14 calls our life a “mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”. I knew that if more of us truly realized our life is a mist, we’d be living a whole lot differently.
My heart’s intent with my book, Wake Up, Generation, is to awaken those who’ve been asleep, inspire those whose purpose has grown dim, and to reclaim value in those who it’s been stripped from.
How is writing a book different than writing a song (besides being much longer!)?
Having written songs and now a book, I’ve come to realize that they couldn’t be more different! Writing a book is a very overwhelming undertaking. The only reason I even considered doing it was because God seemed to be so clearly writing a message on my heart that needed more space than the stanzas of a song or confines of a blog. He seemed to give me sections which I realized were meant to be chapters, and little by little the right scripture, stories, and insight that was supposed to fill each one.
When writing a song, you’re free to be abstract. When writing a book, most readers won’t be too happy if your book isn’t absolutely and completely clear. Truly, I had to rely on God fully for every single word in this book. I had never written a book before and literally had no idea what I was doing except for the guidance I had acquired, and mainly… depending on the Lord! Once the publisher signed me and gave me a deadline, setting out to write this book was the most scary thing I have ever done. But thank goodness God never asks us to do something that He won’t equip us for and get us through. He was with me every step of the way. And now, I’m so grateful to say that it’s printed and, I pray - ready to wake this generation!
What surprised you the most about the writing process?
Probably how hard it is to take what’s in your heart and put it into a “book form” that is clear, fresh, and challenging. There are already so many books in this world and I didn’t want to merely “add to the noise”. The only confidence that I had in writing this book was knowing - without a doubt - that God was calling me to do it.
What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
Besides the actual challenge of doing something huge that I had never done before… I was planning my wedding while writing this book! My manuscript was due September 1st, and I was getting married November 11th. I couldn’t believe that God was asking me to do the two biggest things I had ever done before… at the same time!! I am very much of a “one-thing-at-time” person, and I knew that there was no way I wanted to skimp on my wedding or book. While there were many things that had to be thoroughly planned far in advance of the wedding, I tried to save many details until after I turned in my manuscript. That way I could devote myself to the book, finish it, and then… give my whole heart to preparing for my beloved wedding day!
How can people use your book as a witnessing tool?
Purpose is something that every single person on this planet searches for. As people have conversations with others about what major in college they’re going to choose, what career path they are considering, and overall, what they’re doing with their life… they can use the principles that I’ve shared in my book to guide them in their conversation. Or, they can recommend that the other person reads it. I tried to consider how different each person would be who would read my book. Some may know the Lord, some may not. Some may have had a great upbringing, some may have been/are being abused. Some may be on fire for God, some may be completely passionless. Ultimately, wherever we are, we cannot begin to find our purpose if we don’t have a relationship with the Lord. Once He is Lord of our life and we are saved by His grace, we can begin to understand why we’re here and the specific calling that God has given us… which I call, our mission. Anyone who reads this book will have a clearer understanding of their purpose and mission, and how to help others come to Jesus and wake up to the real reason why they are here.
I'm sure when
you received the diagnosis of having cancer at ten, was an “Oh, Snap!” moment.
Can you share any you've had since then?
I define an “Oh, Snap” Moment as a moment when you know you can’t do something on your own, but you bravely step out in faith anyway. Technically, I didn’t really have a choice as to whether or not to go through cancer, but I did have a choice as to whether or not I would choose to trust and love God in the midst of my pain.
Most “Oh, Snap” Moments in my life are times when I have a choice. Times when I know that God is calling me to do something that scares me, but I choose to follow Him and do it anyway. Writing this book at 20 years old was a massive “Oh, Snap” Moment for me! It felt like God was calling me to walk on water because the thought of it sounded impossible.
Another “Oh, Snap” Moment in my life was when God called me to pursue a full-time ministry instead of going to college. This not only went against what society “expected” of me, but it also left me feeling a bit alone and without a clear-cut path. However, as I chose to step out in that moment not knowing what was next, God provided exactly what He had promised in my heart. The day after I graduated high school, I was offered a record deal with a company that I knew God was calling me to work with. Not only would I get to record a CD, but they asked me to be the speaker for their budding ministry called, “iShine”. Saying yes to what God was asking me to do after high school changed my life. I don’t even want to imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t listened and had walked away to do my own thing.
What steps can people take to avoid wasting their lives?
First, we have to realize that we’re not invincible and that our lives are precious. Every breath is a gift – there is a reason that God hasn’t taken that away from you. I always say, if you’re still breathing, there’s a reason you’re here.
Scripture says in Ephesians 5:14-16 to wake up and make the most of every opportunity. Every single day of our life is meant to be lived fulfilling our purpose… not wasted. We first have to know our purpose, and then we find our mission. When we seek God and discover the mission He has specifically given us individually, we devote our lives to living that out. Not only will our hearts be fulfilled and our days be used for the purpose they were intended, but the world will be changed by those who truly followed God.
How can this book help people find their true purpose in life?
As Christians, our purpose is to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul, and then, to love others as we love ourselves. Jesus said this is the greatest commandment. Our mission, is how specifically we are each supposed to live that out.
Our mission consists of two main elements: our gifts and our passion. God has placed unique gifts inside each one of us in the form of abilities, personality, and spiritual gifts. One of my chapters is dedicated to the topic of finding your gifts, and another to finding your passion. My absolute favorite chapter is where I walk the reader through a process of writing out their very own mission statement! This alone will change a person’s life.
God was intentional when He created each one of us, and He doesn’t want us wandering around wasting time when He’s given us everything we need to serve Him today. My book is meant to help people peel back layers of themselves that they haven’t before and see how God has designed them to be a light in this desperate and dark world.
The anecdotes are very interesting. Where did you get them?
The stories in this book have been collected for many years along the way. As I would meet people or hear about stories of those who were truly living their God-given purpose, I would research or interview them and tuck their stories away until they could be used in a chapter. Many of the stories are of friends of mine who let me interview them based on certain circumstances that have happened in their life. Others were recollections of people I used to know. The stories in the last chapter are of people whose lives have overwhelmingly inspired me. Some of them I got to meet and interview, while others I’ve only admired from afar and shared about through research.
One of my favorite stories that I got to share is Daneen’s in Chapter 7. She is the niece of a family friend, and when I sat down with her at Starbucks, I had no idea how blown away I was about to be by what she’s has gone through. Anyone who’s had a rough past will no doubt be reassured by the beautiful redemption that God has poured into this woman’s life.
How can teens avoid boredom without getting into trouble?
Once you find the mission that God has given you, there are a million ways for you to live it out. We can first open our eyes to the needs directly around us and see how God may be calling us to impact situations and people right in our own backyard. But with God, you’re free to dream big. In my book, I talk about the importance of researching issues that you’re passionate about in your city and across the world. Once we realize certain needs, God begins to lay on our hearts specific ways that we can go out and serve those people. Pray and ask God to show you what to do and how to spend your time. He delights in hearing those prayers from His children… He’s been waiting for us to ask for Him to lead!
At the end of each chapter, I’ve also given an “Action Challenge” to help the reader find a place to start with the things I’m sharing. There is never an excuse for any of us to be bored. There is too much need in this world, and too much purpose that God has placed in you to waste our time doing nothing.
What's a great way for Christian teens to spend spring break? How have
you spent it in the past?
However God is leading you! Make the most of it. On my spring breaks, I found many times I needed a chance to rest and be refreshed because I worked so hard at my school work and other activities throughout the year. I would often take this time to work on one of my passions which was music – developing my voice, studying artists, and figuring out ways to write songs that ministered to people’s needs. I would also use this time to read non-school books that would inspire me in my faith and build me up in my relationship with the Lord so that I’d be stronger when I’d return to school.
One break I got to go on a mission trip across the country with my youth group. I had been working the summer before and many months prior just trying to raise money in order to be able to go. It was an amazing experience, and I adore traveling to minister every chance I get. But… I’d encourage all of us to remember that where we are currently is a mission field. We are each called to be a missionary, every day, right where we are.
How can this book help teens become world changers?
The key to being a world changer is finding your God-given mission. If you want to find your personal mission… read Chapter 11 of my book! ;)
What's next for you book or CDwise?
I just finished up writing a book with my mother-in-law, Stormie, called A Book of Prayers for Young Women. This will release in April of 2013. I am thrilled to get to write this with her as prayer is the foundation of our lives. We have covered topics that bombard young women to help them start their conversation with the Lord about the real issues they are facing. It is a privilege to get to write this book with Stormie, and I know it is going to be powerful. I can’t wait to share it with you!
in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Right now, it’s my favorite season… Fall! So Pumpkin Spice Latte!! Can I get an “Amen”?
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
Ah, I’m so bad at answering this question! Let me think…
I have five siblings, all several years older than me. Two brothers, and two sisters. And I am an Aunt to two nephews and one niece!
And… I’ve done almost every kind of schooling there is to do (pre-college). I went to public school in kindergarten, was homeschooled from 1st-5th grade, did a cyber-school 6th grade, went to a Christian school from 7th-11th, and took dual enrollment college courses my senior year of high school.
Three things always found in your refrigerator?
Now that I’m married, the three things that are always in our fridge are salami and cheese… because of my husband. And ice cream, because of me! ;)
Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Your life is not an accident. You are chosen, known, and purposed. God has given you a story, a living testimony that is meant to bless others. No matter what pain you’re going through or have been through, trust Him, and He will use it for good in your life, and in the life of others. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I have experienced this promise firsthand in my life… with everything in me, I know it’s true.
Watch the trailer for Wake Up Generation (and read our review of the book here!):
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.