I understand you sometimes refer to this book as "discipleship with a grin." What do you mean by that, and why did you choose a humor format for a discipleship book?
Actually, I chose a discipleship theme for a humor title. As much as I hate to admit it, the title came to me one day and I knew I had to do something with it--just too good to pass up! So the more I thought/prayed about it, the more I realized it described my life, both naturally and spiritually. I began to try to lay out my spiritual growth via humorous life stories, and found they produced a natural pattern. From there I developed the five stages of spiritual growth into five sections for the book, and I was off and running! Besides, I learned from a friend/mentor years ago that you can "shove a lot of truth down people's throat when their mouth is open laughing," so I figured, why not???
What are some of the funniest "loose cannons" stories included in your book?
One of my favorites is the story of my very first women's retreat as a brand new Christian back in the "Jesus freak" days of baptisms at the beach and praise-ins at the park. I shared a room with three ladies I had never met, one of whom ended up being my "bunk mate." She snored, she was quite a bit overweight (taking up much more than her side of the bed!), and she "leaked" because she was still weaning her youngest child. You'll have to read the story to see how that experience taught me a lot about "spiritual face plants."
Another favorite story is about the time I took my three sons (two pre-teens and one elementary school age at the time) to the community swimming pool. The older boys decided to use their younger brother as a human beach ball, and when they ignored my cries from the side of the pool to stop, I actually had the nerve to jump into the water and swim right up to them and order them to stop. Their level of humiliation at being seen in the pool with their mother was as close to social suicide as it gets. But we all survived and learned a lot in the process.
Your book is divided into five sections. Can you briefly explain what they are and what they have to do with discipleship and humor?
As I mentioned earlier, the five sections correspond with what I consider the five stages of spiritual growth: crawling (infants or "rugrats") on our knees; walking (toddlers who are still a bit shaky but exploring and learning); running (stronger, more mature believers who are beginning to make a difference in their world); flying or soaring (eagles with a solid foundation and maturity to share with others); resting (back on our knees and realizing that place of utter dependence on Him is really the best place to be after all). The discipleship correlation is, I believe, evident in these stages; the humor comes in simply because I'm one of those slow learners who needs God to "hit me upside the head" at times, and I haven't been bashful about explaining those times in the book.
What advice can you give to the young mom out there who is juggling two kids, a fulltime job outside the home, a husband, housework, pets and church?
Life happens in seasons! You CAN'T be all things to all people at all times. It simply doesn't work. And if you don't believe it, read about my many crash-and-burn episodes as I tried! The Proverbs 31 woman is a composite picture of many women from different walks and stages of life; when we get a grip on that, it releases us to enjoy the season we're in right now, even as we prepare for the next one.
How did raising your own children help prepare you for the parenting side of the proverbial woman? Any tips you'd like to share?
Relax and enjoy them! Yes, even the rugrats and teenagers, because "this too shall pass." There were times I thought I'd go bald from pulling out my own hair over the frustrations and failures of that season of my life, but now it's my grandchildren who are passing through those rugrat-to-teen stages, and hey, I still have my hair! You'll make it--and so will your kids--in spite of your frustrations and failures. And yes, I know there are too many of those to mention (or admit to). I'm the queen of mom-failures, and yet my kids never cease to bless me with words of love and praise. Do I deserve it? Probably not. But I love every minute of it!
Do you have a favorite part of the book or a favorite chapter?
Several, in fact, but one in particular: Chapter 26, "Back Home Again," contains the story of my precious father, a man who lived for 88 years denying God's existence and then finally turning to him in his last week of life. It's one of the more serious stories in the book, but even that one ends on a humorous note.
If the Proverbs 31 woman is alive today, what does she look like?
She looks like me--and you--and every woman whose heart longs to please God and to raise her children according to the Scriptures, even though she knows she's doing well just to make sure they all have their sack lunches before they leave for school in the morning. She's thin, overweight, short, tall, black, white, brown, red, yellow, and polka dot when she catches her kids' chicken pox. And she's absolutely beautiful!!!
Are there some specific lessons you hope readers will learn and apply to their lives after reading your book?
I want them to learn to relax and laugh and enjoy this voyage called "life," and to trust the Captain of our souls to take us home safely when our trip is over, rather than struggling to "man the oars" ourselves.
What makes your book different than other books similar to yours that are in circulation today?
There are countless books written for "control freak" women who want to do it all and be it all--perfectly and completely at all times. This one, however, is not only written with a humorous tone, but it also takes the reader through what I call the five steps of spiritual growth: crawling, walking, running, flying--and back on our knees, totally dependent once again. I do this by exposing many of the sometimes humorous--and sometimes not so humorous--events in my own life as I progressed through the five stages.
Are there any authors that either influenced you personally or influenced your style of writing? Who are they and how did they influence you?
Brennan Manning, Henri J. M. Nouwen, and Max Lucado have to be right at the top of my favorite nonfiction authors list, simply because they call me back to the heart of worship, to a fresh appreciation of grace and a clarion call to rely totally upon God and not myself. I need those reminders on a regular basis. In addition, I love their writing styles. Their words "sing," and it is my goal to do the same with the words I write.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?
Okay, now I have to 'fess up to how nearly one-dimensional I am. If I'm not writing, I'm...well, reading someone else's writing. That's at the top of my "what I like to do" list. However, I also spend time riding on the back of my husband's 2003 Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle. He's been riding HD's since 1970 and says he will never outgrow that youthful passion. On the road we are known as "Big Al" and "Easy Writer..."
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