When Cara Whitney, wife of comedian Dan Whitney (also known as Larry the Cable Guy), wants to spend time with God, she carries out an unlikely activity: She shovels manure on her 180-acre horse farm in Nebraska.
“I shovel manure because I find such satisfaction in getting a job done. But also, no one's bugging me when I’m shoveling manure because they don’t want to participate. For me, it’s time alone, correlating things with the Lord, and just really discovering the character of God through picking up manure,” Whitney told The Christian Post.
“I think things are busy and chaotic and crazy for so many people, so it’s so important to be purposeful in thinking about God and moving closer to Him daily. If you’re in the Word, even just four times a week, your life is significantly different from somebody’s who’s not. You will see a significant change in your life.”
The bestselling author understands firsthand the transformative power of the Gospel. Growing up on a cattle farm in Northern Wisconsin, the wife and mother said she was surrounded by “secular” ideology that gave her a false impression of God.
“I didn't really have a baseline for anything,” she recalled. “You kind of get this weird impression of who you think God is based on what you pick up along the way, and so I thought, maybe He's like this old grandfatherly looking figure in the sky.”
In her 20s, Whitney launched a career in radio that took her to various markets, including Las Vegas, and soon became curious about Christianity. But after a negative experience at a church — “they told me I wasn’t welcome because I wasn’t a member,” she said — Whitney decided, “Maybe I just missed that window. Maybe I was created for bad.”
Still, Whitney felt pulled toward Christianity, and one day rented the 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ.”
“I rented the movie like a porno, like it was so shameful," she said. “But Jesus spoke to me in it when He said, ‘Forgive them, Father, they know not what they're doing.’ I thought, ‘I think I have a chance.’ And so I went on this quest to figure out who Jesus was. I studied the resurrection — that's the whole crux of our faith. I went all-in on it. It took my heart a few years to get in step with it, but it became so clear to me that Jesus is Christ; He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Now, Whitney, who has two children with her husband, Dan, who she married in 2005, wants everyone to experience the same life-changing transformation she did. She recently released her latest book, Fields of Grace(Thomas Nelson, June 1), in which she shares stories about how ordinary people can share their faith in extraordinary ways.
“I really believe so strongly in evangelism,” she explained. “I think evangelism intimidates people. It’s become a dirty word these days. But I want to tell people not to be intimidated by it, that it's actually relational, and they just need to find little windows to talk about Christ when they talk to people in their daily lives. That could be grabbing a cup of coffee with someone and just working it into a conversation or showing up for somebody when they’re going through grief.”
In a society where truth has become relative and Bible engagement is at an all-time low, Whitney stressed the importance of presenting the full Gospel to others, focusing on the exclusivity of Christ.
“Jesus says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” she emphasized. “Why would I tell anybody any different? I love them. I don't want them to go to Hell. So I tell them the truth. Not my truth, His truth. I think the most hateful thing you can do is not tell someone how they can get to Heaven.”
An avid horseback rider, Whitney believes animals can teach humans about love, loyalty and forgiveness — but more importantly, she believes they provide a medium for evangelism.
“You go to a horse barn and these people are so wrapped up in these animals they start giving them human emotions and human thoughts,” she said. “What they are really missing is a relationship with Jesus. So I realized that horses, dogs, all things farm life were a good way to reach those people on a very private, personal way, so they can start seeing that they're loved by something other than their horse.”
“I think animals are purposeful; God put them here for us. But if you had to sell your horse, they would go live with someone else and they wouldn't think twice about you a couple months later,” she added. “God is there for you, Jesus is there for you, He will never leave you, He will never abandon you. He loves you, and no matter where you go, no matter what is going on.”
Whitney’s 2018 devotional, Unbridled Faith, became an instant bestseller. Her latest book, Fields of Grace, includes longer, more in-depth stories highlighting the beauty of a simple, God-honoring life, she said.
“I tell stories where I missed my window of opportunity to tell someone about Jesus,” she shared. “I think about all the times before I was a Christian that I missed. When I was living in Las Vegas and working next to a girl that I knew was stripping or even giving her body away — if I just knew then what I know now, I could say, ‘You don't have to do that.’ I want to tell people, ‘Don’t miss your window to tell people you love them by telling them about Jesus.’”
Whitney is the first to admit she’s not perfect — “I don’t want people to put me on this huge pedestal,” she said — but she can point readers to a God who is.
“I hope this book grows people spiritually and just motivates them to want to go out and tell people about Jesus,” she said. “That begins with a personal relationship with Jesus and putting Him first.”
Fields of Grace is now available.