During Debbye Turner Bell’s reign as Miss America, she was asked countless times, “How did you do it?” Everybody wanted to know how—in her words—this little black girl from Jonesboro, Arkansas, ended up winning one of the most iconic titles in the world.
But Debbye quickly realized the question really wasn’t about the process; it was about the possibility. They wanted to know how they, too, could overcome the odds and find success, especially when facing opposition.
Well, today on the 4:13 Podcast, Debbye shares her story and gives you honest cautions about choices that could trip you up. She’ll also give you strategies to help you stay grounded in the truth as you persevere toward the finish line.
I met Debbye at the LIFE Today show where she was being interviewed about her book, Courageous Faith: A Lifelong Pursuit of Faith Over Fear. I was at the show to talk about my Take Courage Bible study, so the timing of our meeting couldn’t have been better.
We were both women of faith seeking to help others be women of courage.
And I quickly realized that Debbye is a woman of courage! In addition to being an author, she’s a veterinarian (making her Dr. Debbye), broadcast journalist, speaker, corporate trainer, and Miss America 1990. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, Gerald, and daughter Lynlee.
You’re simply going to love her! And you’re going to get so much from this conversation as she answers these questions:
- What is success, and does God call us to be successful?
- Does patience play a role in success?
- How can I respond to fear as I face opposition?
- What do I do with my fear of the unknown?
- How can loss become helpful in my life?
- What does courageous faith look like?
Oh, girl, perhaps you’re no stranger to set-backs, failures, and fatigue. These struggles impact us all, and many are unavoidable! But God’s Word helps us persevere, and His Spirit will guide you in choosing faith over fear.
As Debbye puts it, “Let the Word do its work!”
You’ll hear Debbye quoting Scripture over and over in this episode, and it was apparent that she was directed by and grounded in the Word. And it’s the Word that has helped her consistently surrender to God.
You see, we often define courage as “the absence of fear.” But courage is not the absence of fear; it’s reliance upon God. And in that reliance on Him, we surrender to the goodness and purpose and grace of God. Debbye summed it up beautifully when she said, “Do all you know to do, then get out of the way for Him to do what only He can do.”
So, 4:13ers, let’s surrender and take courage! You can face opposition and rely on Him through whatever He has called you to do. And you can choose faith over fear, because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below. Then check out the links below for more helpful resources.]
Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
More from Dr. Debbye Turner Bell
- Visit Debbye’s website
- Courageous Faith: A Lifelong Pursuit of Faith Over Fear
- Follow Debbye on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Links Mentioned in This Episode
Related Blog Posts
- Can I Break Free From the Stronghold of Fear? With Wendy Blight [Episode 59]
- Can I Get Unstuck From the Fear That Holds Me Back? With Jennifer Allwood [Episode 110]
- Can I Stand Strong When Opposition Wears Me Out? [Episode 94]
- Can I Face Anything With Faith? [Episode 172]
- Can I Overcome Fear With Faith? [Episode 1]
- Can I Be Brave When Deep Down I’m Afraid? With Annie F. Downs [Episode 61]
- Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the 4:13 Podcast here.
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4:13 Podcast: Can I Choose Faith Over Fear? With Dr. Debbye Turner Bell [Episode 183]
Debbye Turner Bell: There was a time during my year as Miss America that there was a credible threat made against my life such that the FBI got involved. I was the -- I'll backtrack just a little bit. I was the third African American woman to hold the title of Miss America, but I was the second one to win it. Because Vanessa Williams was the first. She gave up her title. And her first runner-up was also African American, so that's how I end up being the third. Well, there were certain people that just didn't like the fact that a brown face was under the Miss America crown, and so there was a little bit of hate and opposition out there as I traveled as Miss America.
And I was in a Southern town, this credible threat came through law enforcement. It was enough that they called in the FBI. They could not assure my safety, so they asked me to stay in my hotel room. They posted a police officer outside the door until they could secure a safe exit from that area.
Jennifer Rothschild: "How did you do it?" Debbye Turner Bell heard that question tons of times during her reign as Miss America. Everybody wanted to know how, in her words, this little black girl from Arkansas ended up winning one of the most iconic titles in the world. She realized that the question really wasn't so much about process, but instead it was about possibility. People wanted to know how they, too, could overcome the odds and find success, especially when life shows them lots of struggle. Today Dr. Debbye Turner Bell is going to share her story. Plus, she's going to give you honest cautions about the choices that could trip you up, and she's going to give you strategies that will give you the edge you need to be your best you. What you are about to hear, my friend, is that courageous faith is the answer, no matter what the question. So, K.C., bring it on.
K.C. Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live the "I Can" life, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Now, your host -- oh, let me say it this way. (Singing) Here she comes, Miss America, Jennifer Rothschild.
Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, that was funny. I thought you were going to say Miss 4:13.
K.C. Wright: (Singing) Here she comes, Miss 4:13.
Jennifer Rothschild: That is so good. I would like a crown, K.C.
K.C. Wright: You know, I've emceed several beauty pageants.
Jennifer Rothschild: Beauty pageants?
K.C. Wright: Oh, yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: Ohhh.
K.C. Wright: Oh, yeah. There's, woo, lots of drama going on behind stage. I've almost lost my salvation several times before I've made it to the platform.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, I'm glad this will not be one of those days that we have drama, and you will not lose your salvation, so it's all good. Because this woman, I got to be with her at the Life Today TV show with James Robertson. That's how I met her.
K.C. Wright: Oh, wow.
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, I loved her. So you are going to love, my friends, hearing from Debbye Turner Bell. We call her Dr. Debbye Turner Bell because she's a veterinarian, and she'll tell you a little more about that during our conversation. But in case you're new to us, you picked a great day to join the family. I'm Jennifer, here to help you be and do more than you feel capable of as you live this "I Can" live. And K.C. Wright is my seeing eye guy. And the podcast gets better when you show up, so thanks for joining us. And, K.C., why don't you just introduce (singing) Miss America.
K.C. Wright: Oh, she's beautiful --
Jennifer Rothschild: She is beautiful.
K.C. Wright: -- inside and out. Dr. Debbye Turner Bell is a veterinarian, broadcast journalist, speaker, author, corporate trainer, and former Miss America 1990. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, Herald -- it's Gerald, G-e-r-a-l-d. Gerald. Not Harold, K.C.
Jennifer Rothschild: I'm not editing that out, just so you know.
K.C. Wright: No.
Jennifer Rothschild: No, we're leaving it.
K.C. Wright: Please.
Jennifer Rothschild: We're leaving it. Keep going.
K.C. Wright: We have a contract. Any bloopers --
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Well, it just got canceled. Finish introducing her.
K.C. Wright: I'm just kidding. We don't have a contract. Okay. Oh, man. Okay, I'll just do it again. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, Gerald, and daughter -- oh, shoot.
Jennifer Rothschild: What's her daughter's name, K.C.?
K.C. Wright: Lynlee? Is it Lynlee?
Jennifer Rothschild: Lynlee. Yes, Lynlee. Well done.
K.C. Wright: Oh, Lynlee.
Jennifer Rothschild: I'm not editing that either.
K.C. Wright: That's a beautiful name.
Jennifer Rothschild: It is. Thanks for butchering it.
K.C. Wright: Ohhh.
Jennifer Rothschild: Anyway, what else do you want to say about this?
K.C. Wright: Well, you're going to love her.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.
K.C. Wright: So here we go with Jennifer and Debbye.
Jennifer Rothschild: I'm not editing that.
K.C. Wright: Do you want me to do it again?
Jennifer Rothschild: No.
All right, Debbye. You know, we just have to start with what I remember most about you, the Miss America pageant 1990. So you were crowned Miss America. This is a big deal. And I heard you say before that you got asked so many times, "How did you do it? How did you do it?" So I'm curious how you've answered that question over the years, and what do you think that question really represents?
Debbye Turner Bell: Oh, wow. Okay. So I'll say this, that over the years my answer to that question has gotten shorter and shorter. I go in great detail and give a big testimony about the grace and favor of the Lord, and that's all still there. But as I've grown older, it's like, "You know what? It's just by God's grace. I can't really explain how I did it." But this is part of the reason why I wanted to write "Courageous Faith," is to encourage people first of all to seek God first before launching out, to get his purpose. Because when we're in his purpose that his blessings automatically come. And then one of my favorite principles that I live by now -- and didn't really realize it consciously back then -- is I do everything I know to do to set myself up for success and then I get out of the way to allow God to do what only he can do. And that's kind of how I live my life now. And even without realizing it, it's how I approached the pageant.
It was one of those things, Jennifer, I kind of fell backwards into pageants. I was not a little pageant girl. I'd jokingly say I was not Miss Teeny Tot and Miss Teeny Weeny Tot and Miss Cabbage Patch and Miss Understood. There was none of that stuff. Growing up I was a scientist. I wanted to be a veterinarian, I wanted to teach veterinary medicine at a veterinary school, and so pageants were a long way off my radar. But I found out that the Miss America program was the largest source of scholarship for women in the world, and that if I won a state pageant and made it to the Miss America stage, I could win tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money. And that was appealing to me because I was growing up in a single-parent, lower middle-class home and I knew that my family and my parents could not afford to pay for the veterinary education that I wanted. And so this seemed like a means to an end, a way to get me closer to the education that I wanted.
And that's kind of why I got into it, how I approached it. And for a long time it was just a fun little hobby, a little side hustle, if you will. And along the way, God intervened, let's just put it like that, and it became something much different.
Jennifer Rothschild: Wow. Here's just a girl curious question. Because all that is beautiful, but let me take it back down to the girl question.
Debbye Turner Bell: Okay.
Jennifer Rothschild: What was your talent -- I don't remember -- in the pageant?
Debbye Turner Bell: Oh, okay. Well, it was so long ago, I don't blame you for not remembering. I barely remember myself. No. I play an instrument called a marimba. And for those who didn't grow up around orchestras, marimbas are a larger, deeper pitched version of a xylophone. Most people know what a xylophone is. And I was a percussionist in the band. And when I entered my very first pageant -- this wasn't in the Miss America system, it was a high school pageant -- I couldn't figure out what to do for talent. Because I'd had ballet, I'd taken baton twirling and gymnastics, and my mother made me take piano lessons, and so I dabbled in a bunch of different things. And as I'm going through, you know, "What should I do for talent?" with my mom, I remember she was in the kitchen doing something and she kind of flippantly threw over her shoulder at me, "Well, if you expect to win, you should do what you're good at." Well, at the time, I was the number two snare drummer in the state of Arkansas. I was a very good percussionist.
Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.
Debbye Turner Bell: So I figured that people might not appreciate me doing a full drum riff on a drum set, but they might enjoy the marimba. Because I love and still do love Lionel Hampton, which is -- he's a famous jazz vibraphonist. And so I thought, well, let me try the marimba, and that's how I got started.
Jennifer Rothschild: Wow. Okay, that's fascinating. And it also must have been -- you had a lot of luggage to carry to all your pageants.
Debbye Turner Bell: Oh, the stories I could tell. The stories I could tell about -- because I didn't own a marimba but for the longest time. I borrowed it first from the high school when I was still in high school, and then eventually I borrowed one from the university when I went to Arkansas State University. Finally I bought a marimba. And I would literally break it down to its elemental parts, stuff it into my Nissan Sentra, which is one of those sub-economy compact cars where literally there'd be nowhere to sit in the car but the driver's seat, and I'd drive that marimba all over the state of Arkansas competing in pageants.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, it paid off, because you clearly now are Dr. Debbye Turner Bell. So explain that. I assume this means you did become a veterinarian.
Debbye Turner Bell: Yes, I did. I continued in my education the whole time I competed in pageants, and eventually got into veterinary school and went to the University of Missouri Columbia. And along the way, during breaks, holidays, summertime, I would compete in a Miss America local, trying to make my way to win a state pageant to get to Miss America. And it took seven years, eleven tries, in two different states for me to win a state pageant and go on to the Miss America pageant. So all along I was just marching slowly and steadily toward my goal of becoming a veterinarian. So by the time I won the Miss America pageant, I was a senior in veterinary school. So I took a year leave of absence to fulfill my duties as Miss America, and then after that very eventful year went back and finished up and got my DVM, my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
Jennifer Rothschild: I love that. And so here's just another girl question. Do you still have a crown? Do they give you a crown to keep?
Debbye Turner Bell: Oh, girl, yeah. I have a crown for each title I've won, so I have several crowns. They're all on a high shelf in my closet.
Jennifer Rothschild: Collecting dust.
Debbye Turner Bell: Collecting dust. You got that absolutely right, yeah, including the Miss America crown. So we get to keep it. I love to tell people it's not real diamonds, it's real rhinestones. But, of course, there is some market value to it, but there's more, you know --
Jennifer Rothschild: Sure.
Debbye Turner Bell: What's the word I'm trying to use?
Jennifer Rothschild: Sentimental?
Debbye Turner Bell: Sentimental value, yeah, then there is market value.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Debbye Turner Bell: But, yes, I still have it.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. I love that. And I love that you did your part to be the best at what you felt like you were wired to do and be so that you were in a prime position, continuing with perseverance, to be able to experience what you dreamed of. And I love that. I mean, the veterinary school is what you dreamed of. The Miss America was just a plus along the way. But you've written this book now, "Courageous Faith," that you mentioned earlier. And in it I know you cover a lot of life principles -- I think ten actually -- that led to your success and helped you maintain this success. So I want us to kind of talk through some of them, so I figure you'll weave these through our conversation. But first of all, before we even go there, I want you to define what success actually is.
Debbye Turner Bell: Oooo, I love that. So my definition of success is fulfilling God's purpose through me to my generation. We all use that personally. So I think real success is being who and what God created us to be, and put us on the earth to be, in the season which he created us. I like to also -- I don't like to talk about success without talking about significance, because I believe that's more important, that we really were called to be significant. When Jesus told the disciples, after he rose again, to, "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations," he wasn't calling them to be successful; he was calling them to be significant, to change the world. And I believe that success is a platform upon which we can achieve significance. And so I believe that when we are doing what we were created to do, using the gifts that were placed within us and going all out with them, that's the true definition of success. Because when we do that in God's divine wisdom, we are also fulfilling His purpose for us.
Jennifer Rothschild: Wow. I love that distinction. Which also means that success may look different in different seasons, but significance never changes.
Debbye Turner Bell: Absolutely.
Jennifer Rothschild: And I love that. And when I look at your life from the other side of the TV, you know, when you were on there as the veterinarian -- what network was that? Was that ABC?
Debbye Turner Bell: CBS.
Jennifer Rothschild: CBS, yes. Okay, I remember that. You were, like, the vet that would come in and tell us how to make our puppies not whine. And I loved that. And far more significant than that. So over the years we've seen your success. And look at you right now, author. We see this right now success. But I'm very curious about the process. Okay? So how does patience play into experiencing success as you've defined it?
Debbye Turner Bell: Yes. And that's one of the ten motivational principles that I cover in the book. And patience plays in success and in significance in that most things in life that really are worth having -- our moms always said it, anything worth having is worth working for and worth waiting for. I don't know about you, Jenn, but for me, everything that I have has come through time, patience, faith, and tears. Nothing has come quickly; nothing has come easily.
Jennifer Rothschild: Nope.
Debbye Turner Bell: And here's the thing. We can win no race unless we finish the race. I don't care how fast you start, I don't care where you are midway. If you stop at the 90-meter point of a 100-meter race, you're going to lose, no matter how far ahead you are in that moment. And so we must have the patience to keep going, to keep trying, to fall and get back up, to fail and learn and try again, and then just simply to wait. There's a Scripture in Isaiah, and it says that patience and quietness is our strength and is our salvation. When we just learn to wait on the Lord, that's when he mounts us up on wings as eagles. And I got to tell you, waiting is not my default position, you know.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Debbye Turner Bell: It really isn't. It takes a lot of effort and energy for some of us to wait. And so developing patience is important for completing our assignment and our purpose. Because what I'm hoping is when I get to the end of my life -- and I don't want to be morbid about this. But when I face the Lord, I don't want to look back and see anything left on my To Do list.
Jennifer Rothschild: Amen. Oooo, I like that. And, you know, it's a good word for us too, Debbye, because we live in such an instant gratification society. And we look at the end result of people's lives on social media and think, oh, well, it should be easier for me, or it should be quicker for me. And what you're describing, even when you described how many pageants you were in and the series of events along the way to get your Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, patience. Nothing happens overnight, nothing worth having. Your mama was right.
Now, here's a question, though, for me, because I'm not in your shoes. Celebrity. Okay? So you've lived at the celebrity status for many years and, of course, I'm sure there's pressures you've experienced that many of us could not identify with. But one of the things I'm curious about is fear. Okay? Like, were there ever any times in your life as Miss America or someone on TV that you felt, I don't know, threatened or unsafe or you had people messing with you? How did you manage stuff like that, if that was a thing?
Debbye Turner Bell: Oh, absolutely. I write about that in the book. There was a time during my year as Miss America that there was a credible threat made against my life such that the FBI got involved. I was the -- I'll backtrack just a little bit. I was the third African American woman to hold the title of Miss America, but I was the second one to win it. Because Vanessa Williams was the first. She gave up her title. And her first runner-up was also African American, so that's how I end up being the third. Well, there were certain people that just didn't like the fact that a brown face was under the Miss America crown, and so there was a little bit of hate and opposition out there as I traveled as Miss America.
And I was in a Southern town, this credible threat came through law enforcement. It was enough that they called in the FBI. They could not assure my safety, so they asked me to stay in my hotel room. They posted a police officer outside the door until they could secure a safe exit from that area for me, and I spent a night and most of a day waiting on them to make all those arrangements. And so that was disconcerting more than being fearful, because I said, "Okay, God, you put me in this position and you're capable of protecting me." And as I write in the book, I said, "Lord, I thank you for that police officer outside the door. I ask that you post an angel next to him in case he needs back-up." And I just trusted God to protect me. And he did and I'm so grateful for that. But I was raised by a God-fearing, Bible believing mother. And from the youngest age, almost from the age of being able to understand English, she taught me that I had authority in the name of Jesus; that God had not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. And even as a four-year-old, she taught me that I could rebuke the enemy and bind up the devil and claim wholeness and claim safety in the name of Jesus. And so I was just raised that way in that regard. So I lived through that, I trusted God to protect me.
But I tell you what, the bigger battles that I had with fear during that year -- which was 30-some years ago, but even now -- is the fear of the unknown. When I don't know my way forward, when I have gone beyond my own intelligence, my own experience, my own education, and I'm in a situation -- what I call a job for God. It's something that only God can do. I'm one of those kind of control freaks, I think three moves ahead. You know, like today I'm thinking about what I need to do next week.
Jennifer Rothschild: Right.
Debbye Turner Bell: And that's just the kind of personality that I have. Well, that's not always conducive with a faith walk with God, who's really the one who's in control, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Debbye Turner Bell: And he won't always tell us what's coming next. And so that's a component of courageous faith, is being able to take a step even when you can't see the ground in front of you that you're stepping on. Just trusting that God is in control, God loves us, that he has it all provided, and just take the step and then he does the rest. And so to come back to your question how, you know, I deal with fear even today, is I preach to myself. You know, I have made it a choice and a priority to know what the word of God says about who he is and who I am in him, and so I just claim the word. All things will work together because I love the Lord and I'm called according to his purposes. There is, therefore, now no condemnation in me, because I walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
I have in my phone a file, that's pages and pages long, of the promises of God in the Bible. And I will confess them out loud, "God, this is what you said. You own the cattle on a thousand hills. It delights you to give your children your Kingdom." I remind God of what he says and then I claim it for myself and let the Word do its work.
Jennifer Rothschild: Wow. that's so practical. It's so profound and it's so practical. Anyone who is facing fear right now can do exactly what you just described, pull the Scriptures, put them in your notes in your phone, and then just keep preaching them to yourself. Because His Word, it does not return void.
Debbye Turner Bell: That's right. His Word is a two-edge sword, and it cuts -- and I just want to throw this in. And you don't have to be a Bible scholar to do this.
Jennifer Rothschild: No.
Debbye Turner Bell: For years, for decades I just stood on the 23rd Psalm. Just about everything we need is in the 23rd Psalm.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, it is.
Debbye Turner Bell: You know, "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." And I love the way David writes this, because the wording there, "I will" is an indication of our intention, our will. We can decide not to fear. We can decide to trust and believe in God. But while fear is an emotion, we can decide not to be ruled by it and to trust God. And so even just the 23rd Psalm will get us through almost anything we face in life.
Jennifer Rothschild: Good word. It is, it is for every season you're in, it really is. And so on your path over the many seasons of your life, I am also curious if you've experienced loss. Because I think loss often informs our understanding of significance and success. So how has loss played a part in your journey?
Debbye Turner Bell: Yeah, I've experienced some just devastating loss. And I believe, just based on my experience, that loss is a clarifier. We learn what's really important, we learn who our real friends are, and we also realize the strength of God in loss. The Scripture says that in our weakness, his strength is made perfect. And so I've learned that it's okay to be weak, because that's when I give God room to be strong. So for me, I lost my mom very early in her life. She died at 55. In this day and age, that's way too young to be dying.
Jennifer Rothschild: Sure is.
Debbye Turner Bell: And she was a woman of God, a preacher of the Word. I spent my whole life watching her pray for people and seeing God move. I've seen miracles with my own eyes, I've experienced the miraculous in my own body, in my own life. And so I had every expectation that when she received this cancer diagnosis, that God was going to heal her. I had no doubt. And when she died unexpectedly -- she went through the treatment, she got the radiation and we thought that the cancer was gone, and she unexpectedly died. And that shook me to the core. And it wasn't that it shook my faith in the existence of God. I still believed in his existence and acknowledged his power; I just didn't like his ways very much. I was like, "This is how you treat your people. This is how you treat a minister?" I'm like, "I don't want any part of this.
But I also knew -- it's kind of like Peter, when Jesus was nearing the end of his ministry and Peter said, "Where will we go?" You know, he invited the disciples, after he had preached a message that was hard for them to take, and he said, "Is this too hard? Will you leave too?" after some of the followers left. And Peter said, "Where would I go? I got nowhere else to go." And so for that, I appreciate my mom. She gave me no other survival tools for life than to trust in God.
Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.
Debbye Turner Bell: And so I didn't have anywhere else to go but him. And I said, "God, I don't like you, I don't like what you've allowed to happen, but I know that you are sovereign." And I began to just be real honest with the Lord. We have to worship him in spirit and in truth. He will not participate in our masquerades and our facades; we have to be real with him. And it was through being authentic but keeping my heart open. "I don't understand this, God, but help me understand. Where do I go? How do I live without my mother? I'm not ready." I was 29, so I was fully grown and out of the house, but she still was my mommy.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Debbye Turner Bell: And I said, "Okay, Lord, what do you want me to do with this?" And over time -- and I talk about this in the book -- I got Christian counseling -- I believe in Christian counseling -- and talked through my emotions. And because it was Christian counseling, we found Scriptures that applied, and over time healing took place. And now my mom has been with the Lord for, oh, 27 years now, so it's been a long time. But now I see God's grace in it, that I didn't miss anything that he provided. The hole that she left leaving this earth, that he filled with other people, with other spiritual mothers. And I had to grow up in certain ways, and I'm convinced I would not have grown up had she still been on the earth, because she was kind of like my spiritual crutch.
Jennifer Rothschild: Sure.
Debbye Turner Bell: If I needed to hear from God, I'd go to my mom and say, "Pray. Tell me what God says." And I had to learn how to do that on my own. And I have now rambled so far away from your question, I forgot what it was.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, that's okay. I've been through menopause, I don't remember what the question was.
Debbye Turner Bell: Oh, good.
Jennifer Rothschild: I just know I loved your answer because you said that loss was clarifying, and you just illustrated that in such a beautiful way that all of us can identify with. And so for the woman, the person right now who's in the middle of loss, I pray that Debbye's words are just washing over you right now. Because, Dr. Debbye, this is so good. This is why I wanted to have this conversation. And I'm encouraging our listeners, this is just whetting your appetite and scratching the surface. You need to read the book, because there are ten life lessons and you're just getting little snapshots of pieces of them. But I know this is going to be such a blessing to so many, Debbye.
So let me ask you -- last question. Okay? Your book is called "Courageous Faith." And someone has been listening to you and she's like, Oh, my gosh, I am so inspired. I want to have the courageous faith that Debbye has, that her mother clearly had, be able to persevere and not walk in fear, and just this whole thing you're describing. What is the first thing that she can do when this podcast ends?
Debbye Turner Bell: Oooo, I love that question, Jennifer. The first thing that she can do is surrender, surrender to the goodness and purpose and grace of God. And I'll share this story quickly. I open the book -- the first life lesson that I open the book with is "Failure." That's the name of the first chapter. Because I believe that real success and significance is built on a foundation of failure. Which means we've tried, we put ourselves out there, we come short, we fail. We learn, we improve, we try again. So I open the book with talking about -- writing about laying on the floor in my hotel room, in a fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably because I'd lost the Miss Arkansas pageant for the third time. And I won't through the details right now, but suffice it to say I expected to win. The audience thought I was going to win. When I was called as first runner-up, you could hear the audience go, "Ahhh." There was this gasp.
You know, people had prayed over me, given me words from the Lord, you know, "Thou shalt be Miss Arkansas," or whatever, and I thought it was going to happen and it didn't. And I cried -- I literally cried myself out, and I was like, "God, I don't understand. I don't understand. I don't understand. I wouldn't have done this if you'd told me not to." It felt like a waste of time and energy. And when I literally had no more tears to shed, my body had depleted itself of tears, I lay there quietly and I heard in my spirit -- I do believe that the God of the universe can talk to his creation.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.
Debbye Turner Bell: I heard in my spirit, "Debbye, I'm faithful. Now get up." And I had a decision to make in that moment. Would I wallow in the failure? Would I take it on as, quote/unquote, my truth and allow it to define my identity or would I get up out of that failure, wash off the debris of that failure, and take another step? And so I thank God for the strength to be able to get up that night and wash my face. I didn't know what I was going to do, I didn't know that I was going to one day become Miss America. I didn't know what the next step was. But I knew I trusted God and I said, "God, however you want to use me, I'm willing."
K.C. Wright: So much stood out to me in this conversation. What a woman, first of all. But I must say, one little sentence I hope didn't slip by you, so I'll repeat it. "Let the Word do its work." Let the Word do its work, because the Word works. Prayer works. God watches over His Word to perform it. You surrender to God and let the Word do its work.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes and Amen. You know, everything Debbye said, it was so clear, like she was totally directed by and totally grounded by the Word. And truly, if you want to have courageous faith, that's what you need, you need the Word. It's what we need most in this life.
So I tell you often about my very favorite way to engage the Bible. Now, obviously because I'm blind, I'm not being able to read it in print. But even so, I have many audio options out there, but my very favorite --and you do not have to be blind to enjoy it -- is the Dwell Bible app. Y'all, it is so beautiful. In fact, you can find more about it and get a free trial period subscription at 413podcast.com/dwell. But it's a bunch of people from all over the planet, so you've got different accents reading the Scripture in different versions of the Bible, with different beautiful music behind it. It's just gorgeous. My favorite reader, he's from South Africa. His name is Gregory. We commune in the Word together every morning, me and Gregory.
K.C. Wright: Yeah, I had not even heard of this Dwell Bible app until you told me about it. Now I'm addicted to it.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
K.C. Wright: I go to bed listening to it. And I got my church involved with the Dwell Bible app. So, yes, it is wonderful. We'll also have a link to the Dwell Bible app, plus a transcript of this rich conversation will all be on the show notes at 413podcast.com/183. That's 183. And also we will have a link to all things Debbye, including her book "Courageous Faith" there too.
But one more thing I just want to say real quick, don't forget how Dr. Debbye ended. She told us that the first thing to do to get courageous faith is to surrender to the goodness and purpose and grace of God. So family, or we like to call you our 4:13ers, let's surrender.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. Let it be, in Jesus' name. All right, our people. Until next week remember, whatever you're facing, however you feel, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. I can.
K.C. Wright: I can.
Jennifer and K.C.: And you can.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, every single day you can. I love my coffee, by the way, my little "I Can" coffee.
K.C. Wright: You love it?
Jennifer Rothschild: I think it's so cool. And it's going to be on my shelf right there where I film the Bistro. Because what does it say?
K.C. Wright: It says, "Yes, you can," signed "Coffee." When you don't think you can, you can because of a cup of coffee and through Christ's power that empowers you.
Jennifer Rothschild: A to the men.
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