In 2014, a new collection of books will be released from Thomas Nelson: InScribed. It’s a collaboration of voices of women authors, and I’m excited that my next book, Amazed and Confused, will be a part of it. But I’m not just excited about my book, I’m thrilled about the entire collection. A lot of that is attributed to the friendship I’ve developed with one of my fellow authors, Jenifer Jernigan. Somehow, we developed a bit of a reputation for being trouble-makers from the very beginning. The reality is that we just like to laugh. Her book, Dive Deeper, is going to revolutionize the way a lot of people read their Bibles, and I can’t wait to share it with our small group leaders at NCC. In the meantime, I wanted to give you an opportunity to meet her, and she graciously granted me an interview.
Why did you want to be involved InScribed and how do you think your book and your viewpoint fits in within the collection?
One of the things I love most about InScribed is the fact that we’re a community of women, working side-by-side with one goal in mind…to help others fall more in love with Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him. There’s no competition. No pretense. No hidden agendas. I look at our community and there’s no doubt it was God who orchestrated our coming together as one. I love that we laugh together, cry together, share joys and struggles together, push each other to go beyond, and support and encourage each other in the work God has given us to do. It amazes me how each of our books complements the others; again, only something God could have done! I never imagined being a part of something like this. I’m so humbled and blessed to serve Jesus with all my InScribed friends.
Why did you write Dive Deeper: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion?
Over the past 5 ½ years I’ve poured my heart into this writing project which began with a simple request from a friend after we’d completed a Bible Study, “This summer I want to learn more about the armor of God.” As I studied through Ephesians 6 preparing to teach on the armor of God, the Lord led me to d.i.v.e. deeper into the entire book.
From those summer months of gathering around a rectangular dining room table—my friend, myself, and 4 other women “DIVE DEEPER: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion” was born.
Diving into the book of Ephesians has been pivotal for me in my move from shallow religion to deep faith and relationship with Jesus. Ephesians taught me that IN Christ is my place of healing, abundant living, and worth. It helped me to see who I truly was before Jesus, a reality we must all face in order to understand the magnitude of God’s love and grace for us. I learned that a life of religion will fan my flame to “do” in the Church solely based on a selfish, what-can-I-get-out-of-this mentality, when ultimately what God has called me to is a specific work, created just for me, within His Body in order continue furthering the Gospel message to those who need to move beyond the shallowness of religion into deeper faith in God and abundant relationship with Him.
What has been your primary prayer for your readers as you have written your book?
I’m asking the Lord to use this book/study to equip others to dive deeper into the living and active Word of God. I pray the words written will speak Jesus Truth into hearts. Through the personal stories I share, I pray they’re taught and encouraged to press harder into Jesus and trust His unchanging Word. As I’ve wrestled with my own faith questions over the years, my hope is that the questions and answers I pose in the book will rustle their feathers, causing them to seek His Truth all the more. And I pray they’ll be challenged, pushed, stretched, and led from the shallowness of religion to deep, lasting faith in Jesus.
What have you learned in the process of writing this book?
Oh my goodness. Writing a book is hard! It’s challenging. It’s lonely. And it’s time consuming. But, I’ve also learned that it’s rewarding. And healing. And it really makes one rely on Jesus for strength and direction and wisdom.
In your book the word “dive” is used as an acronym, what does that stand for and/or mean?
Well…it all began years ago while my family and I were on vacation at the beach. My oldest daughter, who was around 6 at the time, spent the entire day playing in a little water puddle she’d dug with her shovel and pail. She played there for hours, satisfied and content. Every now and then the inside of her puddle would drain empty, and she’d walk to the ocean’s edge to fill her pail with water. Once her pail was full she’d wander back to her hand-made beach playground and empty the pail of water into the hole she’d dug.
As I watched her walk back and forth numerous times from the puddle she’d dug to the ocean’s edge, the Lord began speaking to my heart about being satisfied and content with where I was in my relationship with Him.
Here’s what I need you to know… I’m a church girl; a preacher’s kid, in fact. I grew up in the church, knowing all things about the church—the lingo, the rules, and the traditions—and my head was spilling over with Jeopardy knowledge. You know what I mean? But there was a huge disconnect between myself and God. Yes, my head was full of Jesus stories, but the deep places of my heart were empty, craving more. That day on the beach God challenged me to dive deeper into relationship with Him and in order to do that I had to dive deeper into His Word.
I made the choice to dive deeper into God’s Word because I needed some Jesus-not religion, or tradition, or denominational mandates, I just needed Jesus and His Word. I’m not going to lie to you. Diving deeper into the Scriptures has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m no academic scholar (And if you were to ask my second, third, or tenth grade English teachers they’d tell you I’d never amount to much in life because I was “challenged and had learning disabilities.”) So, I needed something simple…that’s where d.i.v.e. comes in.
d.i.v.e. stands for:
Anytime I’m studying through Scripture, I use the d.i.v.e. method to get below the surface into the depths of the passage. Dive Deeper: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion is built upon the d.i.v.e method leading the reader through the book of Ephesians.
If you could go to any concert in the history of the world, what would it be?
As a little girl, I remember sitting in my grandparents living room with my dad, granddaddy, and great grandpop as they, what we call in the South, spent the evening “pickin’ n grinin.” For hours they’d play their banjos and guitars and laugh as they told stories. I’d give anything to enjoy a concert like that again.
What accomplishment, before the 6th grade, are you most proud of and why?
Hmmm…I’d have to say running, and running fast. When I was in the 4th grade, I was in the Jr. Olympics with my school’s track team. Only one girl was able to beat me during the competition. I was very proud to be one of the fastest girls in the county.
What is one quirky thing about you that drives people crazy?
Ok. So if I tell you this, you can’t laugh or make a “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-face” at me. Ok? I have this thing about certain textures in my mouth; I don’t do slimy or soggy. I’m a crunchy kind of gal. When I eat cereal, I suck the milk out of cereal before I chew it up and swallow. For real! I put the spoon in my mouth, suck the milk out of the cereal, then chew and swallow. I drove my college roommate crazy every time I ate cereal.
Tell me a little bit about your family and career.
My hubby and I have been married for almost 15 years, which is a miracle of the Lord. I write about our relationship in the book; you’ll have to read it to hear more of that story. ☺ We have 3 kids. Hannah is 13. Will is 10. Lydia is 6. This year is our 8th year of homeschooling. I never wanted to be a teacher! In fact, a year into an elementary education degree I changed my major and ended up graduating with a BA in Christian Counseling. But, the Lord saw fit to have me home with my babies teaching them. It’s not always easy and some days I look for that yellow school bus but I know, without a doubt, I’m doing what God wants me to do. I’m very involved with my church, teaching women’s Bible studies, mentoring and discipling women, and I help write curriculum for our small groups. I’m also involved with and a supporter of Transforming Hope Ministries (www.transforminghopeministries.org), a local organization that’s working hard to transform the lives of adolescent victims of human trafficking by offering them hope for their futures and equipping them with the skills to significantly lower their vulnerability to being re-exploited.
How would your husband describe you?
I think the first thing he’d say about me is that I take way too long to get ready. ☺ He’d say I’m not the same person he married years ago, which is a good thing. Hmmm, this is harder to answer than I thought it’d be. I think he’d describe me as a free-spirit. Someone who is passionate about what she believes in and isn’t easily swayed by the opinions of others. He’d say I’m a good cook and love taking care of my family.
What is your favorite coffee drink?
Oh, I’m a coffee lover!! Coffee is a food group, right? My husband and I were recently introduced to the neatest little coffee shop in our city (Jubala, http://www.jubalavillagecoffee.com) and both fell in love with Almond Latte with Almond Milk. And, the foam art?? Uh-mazing!!!
Here’s how to connect with Jenifer:
And while you’re at it, say “Happy Birthday!” Today is the day.
Check out other authors and the rest of the InScribed Collection here. And be sure to sign up to receive updates on books as they are released! You can also see my answers to Jenifer’s question on her blog here.