Linda: I’m delighted to be sharing with you about my new devotional from Proverbs, Better Than Jewels: 31 Days of Biblical Insight for a Woman Seeking God.
Beverly: Your devotional is full of inspiring stories–one for every day of the month. What made you write a devotional book using stories?
Linda: I’ve always thought that stories were powerful. They can illustrate a point and offer an example many times better than just logical explanation alone. I wrote a few that were published in different Chicken Soup for the Soul books. That’s when I got the idea to write stories like those chosen for Chicken Soup, colorful narratives to make the reader laugh and cry, that would help to illustrate biblical concepts. I love how Jesus used stories to illuminate the ideas he was teaching, so I decided to follow the example of the best!
Beverly: I like the fact that your book is hardback. It’s quite cute and compact, and with the word Jewels in the title, it makes a great gift book for any woman on your Christmas list. Is that what you had in mind?
Linda: That’s what I was hoping for. Thanks so much. As a busy person, I have to buy gifts on the run. I figured any lady would like an appealing gift book full of fun and encouraging stories. A gift like this is a great witnessing tool. It’s a non-threatening way to introduce someone to God’s lavish love and to affirm His love in those who already know Him.
My goal is for every reader to laugh, learn, and leave each chapter feeling closer to the Lord. Jewels is an easy read. One busy lady got it home, brewed a cup of tea, curled up on the sofa, and finished the book in a couple of hours. Then she started through it again using it as a daily devotional, reading a story each day and working through the Polish Your Jewels section at the end of each chapter to apply what she learned. I am so pleased that this book offers comfort and growth to the women who read it.
Beverly: Your stories are authentic and you’re not afraid to laugh at yourself. Is it hard to be that vulnerable?
Linda: I try to stay transparent in my writing because I think readers need to see real people searching for solutions to real struggles, not people pretending to be perfect. If we can’t laugh at ourselves then who can we laugh at? I’ve got plenty of material! Better Than Jewels has a story about how I accidentally brought bright purple shoes to a speaking engagement to wear with my pale pink and white outfit. I didn’t know the area well enough to find a store, so I slapped on the bright purple shoes and tried to make the best of it. I wrote that story to illustrate Proverbs 31. That’s my best attempt at being this wise and capable woman. The Lord keeps me on my knees, and usually I fall there!
Better Than Jewels contains everyday challenges of being a busy woman in today’s culture. It has insights in surviving the hair-flipping, door-slamming teen years. What mom doesn’t need a sense of humor when it comes it her parenting? If I can bring a smile to someone’s face as she starts her day, that will certainly bring a smile to mine.
Beverly: This book has a lot of stories from your own life. Could you share some of them with my readers?
Linda: It features many stories about answered prayer. I think we need to see how God comes though to help bolster our faith. If your truster is busted, the awesome stories of God’s provision in everyday life can be just what you need. I wrote stories about Sunday School teachers, my youth pastor, and other precious people who made God look good.
Nancy’s Note tells how during one of the most challenging times of my life, God prompted a friend I hadn’t talked to in years to pray for me and send me a note to tell me so! It’s just one of the faith-building tales of God’s amazing care and comfort.
There are stories of the trails and triumphs of raising three kids on a shoestring budget. A humorous but helpful story talks about my son, Jacob, who is melancholic in temperament. He grew up as a deep, sensitive, musical child who tended to see the cup of life half empty instead of half full. What’s In Your Cup? is a fun story of the tools I learned through research to teach my boy to see the world in a more positive light.
I wrote about all the Lord taught me when my youngest daughter, Ashley, needed heart surgery in Change of Hearts and As The Deer. I included a story of how the Lord used a car accident to show me that my petite blond daughter was ready to join the Air Force while our country was at war, called Solid Gold Friends, because my friends prayed me into that understanding. I tried to be a good mom and teach my kids, but it turns out, I learned as much from them as I ever taught them.
I even wrote stories of the extraordinary life lessons I learned from my faithful dog called Good Ol’Gus, and a story about my feral cat turned friend called Quincey, the Comforting Cat.
Beverly: What is one of your favorite stories from your book?
Linda: Practically every story I share with my readers is a favorite. There are so many about how God came through! One of my favorites, Dare to Dream, is how the Lord intervened to get me from the Deep South to college in California. After accepting Christ while I was in junior high, I started receiving info in the mail from Azusa Pacific College (now University). Right away I knew that is where I wanted to be. Since my mom was a pretty hostile nonbeliever, I knew she would never go for it. So I prayed.
Two months before the end of my junior year, that little country church I attended in Tennessee hired a new pastor, a graduate from Azusa! Even though my mom had a major mother melt down and I had to go live with my dad in North Carolina, losing contact with my church in Tennessee, my old pastor still made it happen for me to fulfill my dream of attending Christian college in California.
Beverly: That’s an awesome story. You have a lot to write about. You have lived an eventful life, haven’t you?
Linda: I believe everybody has a story—a string of stories that make up life. In my first book, 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise: Biblical Steps to Wholeness in Christ, one of the ways I teach folks to deal with their pain is to write down those moments in their lives when God showed up. I call them “Monumental Moments.” In the Old Testament when God did something memorable or miraculous for the children of Israel, he would instruct them to erect a monument to commemorate the event. The Lord wanted His people to do that so that they wouldn’t forget his goodness and care. We can have those moments forever etched in time when we remember seeing God’s love up close and personal. It’s very therapeutic to record and revisit His faithfulness. After writing down my monumental moments for years, I filled a book with stories!
Beverly: It’s not just a book of stories. Can you tell us how each daily reading flows?
Linda: Each day starts with a verse from Proverbs and a brief scriptural insight into that verse, then a story to illustrate the concept presented in that scripture. My goal is for busy women to have a bite-size bit or instruction and inspiration to start each day. I have talked to ladies who have known the Lord for decades and baby believers who have expressed appreciation for the insight they received into God’s Word from Better Than Jewels. They relate to the situations I present in my stories about “the Lord in the everyday.”
Beverly: Remind us again about how to use of the Polish Your Jewels section at the end of each chapter?
Linda: As a Christian counselor, I want to offer up ways to give the reader something to work on each day. Polish Your Jewels offers questions and suggestions to help you apply the principles presented in the scripture verse and illustrated by the story.
Beverly: What made you write about Proverbs?
Linda: It’s one of my favorite books in the Bible. It’s filled with wisdom and instruction for living, like a “Life 101 class.” Proverbs is so rich in wise counsel that the stories came easy.
Beverly: How can folks get Better Than Jewels: 31 Days of Insight for a Woman Seeking God?
Linda: Amazon has it and I offer a discount on my website when you purchase more than one book. Better Than Jewels is packaged in such a way as to make a thoughtful gift. I also know ladies who have used is as a small group study, discussing their take away from each story and working through the Polish Your Jewels section together.
Beverly: What is your next project?
Linda: I’m a mother so I have learned to multi-task. I have several irons in the fire. My website (lindanewtonspeaks.com) is being reinvented to a teaching tool for people to learn more about how turn the trials of life into triumphs. I want to offer a COUNSELING TIP OF THE WEEK to enlighten, encourage, inform, and empower people to deal with the challenges that life dishes out in these insecure times. I am working now so that those who visit my website can sign up to have the Counseling Tip of the Week delivered to their mailbox and open up to new insight each week.
I am pedal to the metal to complete a gift/devotional book in the same format as Better Than Jewels illustrating the book of Psalms. In keeping with the jewels theme, my working title is Sapphires From Psalms. I am feverishly finishing stories as we speak. It should be out by Mother’s Day 2010. I would love for your readers can check my website for updates.
I am also working on a book with my daughters. Sarah, who is now a Captain in the Air Force working as a psychologist, and Ashley, who survived four heart surgeries, and is now a fiercely healthy Weight Watchers instructor. We want to write a book about how to have a healthy, mind, body and soul. Our working title is You Can Fix Stupid: 7 Savvy Choices for Mind, Body, and Soul. In case that’s too “in your face” for publishers we are also thinking of Eat, Pray and Love Sleep, working off the best selling title Eat, Pray, Love. Captain Sarah’s doctoral dissertation is on the Healing Benefit of Sleep. She has done groundbreaking work the major part sleep plays in our mental and physical health. Ashley had perfected the art of “Weight Loss on the Run.” As a Christian counselor, I have the privilege everyday of offering people tools to deal with life and relationships from a more positive perspective. We want to share these tools with readers everywhere to help them access the abundant life God has for them mentally, physically, and spiritually.
If your readers would like to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will put them on my mailing list and keep them informed when our book comes out.
Beverly: Is there anything that we didn’t ask that you’d like to share with us?
Linda: I want your readers to know that God deeply desires to be involved in even the most mundane parts of their day. He loves us that much, and He continually seeks an intimate relationship with the person sitting in you seat! My stories illustrate how much God loves his girls with an unquenchable love and He is available to us in a moment’s notice.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I hope your readers will visit me online at www.LindaNewtonSpeaks.com. Remember, God’s got wisdom and insight for you is better than jewels!