By Sue Nowicki

McClatchy Newspapers

When God created the one-of-a-kind gal named Patsy Clairmont, he packed into her 5-foot frame a giant dose of humor, a spitfire personality and a passion for helping women.

The best-selling author of 20-plus books, including "God Uses Cracked Pots" and "I Second That Emotion," has spoken to more than 4 million women in the past 14 years as a core member of the Women of Faith team.

In a telephone interview from her second home near Nashville, Clairmont talked about her life and her ministry.

Q: You've often talked about the many years early in your marriage and mothering when you suffered from agoraphobia — the fear of leaving your house. Have you ever found out what caused that?

A: I can't really identify any one thing. There are those who suggest it is an inheritable trait. After conversations with hundreds and thousands of women, I think it's an accumulation of feelings and experiences that we don't know what to do with, or why they occurred.

None of us grow up without pain from our childhood. This is a fallen world and you can't escape having your feelings hurt, being accused of something you didn't do. That's how life is. You protect your child in every way and then you send them off to school and they get a critical teacher or a playmate who's cruel on the playground. Those feelings don't just go away. They wait for us to catch up.

Q: How do you see God?

A: Tender, compassionate. I see it in the Scripture as he dealt with women there, and I see it in my own heart. He understands my frailty and insecurity. He's always bringing those raindrops of mercy and blessing. It comes through a friend who calls or sends an e-mail with a phrase I needed to hear. It comes in a line in a song. It comes in conversation at the dinner table. It can come from a stranger sitting next to me. I've become a mercy-drop catcher. If we don't purpose to find it and see it, we'll miss it.

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