Monday, August 30, 2010

The Women in Jesus' Life

I was honored recently to receive a request to review a new Bible study: The Women in Jesus' Life by Mindy Ferguson. Mindy was gracious enough to agree to an interview in tandem with my review.

Liberty Speidel: Why did you decide to write “The Women in Jesus’ Life”?

Mindy Ferguson: I taught an evening women’s Bible class for about seven years. Most of the women worked and I noticed that they often struggled to finish their homework when we did in-depth Bible studies that required a lot of Bible reading and questions. I also noticed that the majority of the women felt like they couldn’t measure up to all of the expectations or meet the many needs of their families, employers, and friends. It was clear to me that a study with a lighter amount of homework that emphasized the depth of Jesus’ love for them was needed.  As I prayed about that need, my attention was drawn to the compassionate and loving way Jesus treated the women He encountered during His life and ministry. Inspired, I wrote The Women in Jesus’ Life for the women in my class. I found the lessons generated rich, open discussion. Women came to class each week feeling affirmed and encouraged, anxious to share how they related to the women they had studied during the week. It was a special time with a special group of women.


LS: What kind of research did you do? How did the research impact how you decided to present this study?

MF: I did my best to step into the sandals of the women we studied each week. I researched the culture, as well as the attitudes of and about the women of the time. I imagined myself in each woman’s circumstance and attempted to feel the emotions she might have felt. Then I related those circumstances to the situations women face today. I wanted the study to stir women’s minds as well as their hearts. By keeping the lessons short, I was hoping the women in my class would be able to complete their lessons. They did.  I was encouraged by what I learned and it blessed me greatly to see group feeling affirmed and excited about the material.


LS: Did anything you learned surprise you?

MF: What surprised me most is the important roles women served in Jesus’ ministry. Many of them supported Him by their own means. Jesus first spoke of Himself as the Messiah to the Woman at the Well. The first person to see the risen Christ was Mary Magdalene. Jesus always treated women with dignity and He enabled them to participate in His work while He walked this earth, just as He does today.


LS: What did writing this study teach you?

MF: I gained a greater sense of the depth of Jesus’ love and mercy.


LS: For the writers, how is writing a Bible study such as “The Women in Jesus’ Life” different from writing a different kind of book, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.

MF: I’ve always considered myself more of a Bible student than a writer. I think it is important to allow God’s Word to teach His Word. Writing a Bible study is more like guiding a friend through Scripture and allowing her to discover the sweetness of God, the vastness of His power, and the consistency of His commands for herself.  Rather than painting all of the details, like you might do as you develop characters and create scenarios when writing fiction, a Bible study writer paints a picture with broader strokes and allows the Word of God to bring out details that convict or encourage.


LS: What do you hope women gain most from this study?

MF: I hope that their hearts will be touched by Jesus’ lavish love for them and their minds would be engaged as they learn new information and read familiar passages of Scripture in this fresh context.   


______

In reading and working through the Bible study, I've found it to be a study that not only teaches me about the women in the Gospels, but gives me a new perspective on Jesus. The passages utilized are typically ones I've never heard unpacked before, or ones I've never seen from such a point of view. But the questions asked in the study really make me as a woman dig deep into myself and further explore my own relationship with Christ. There were many points where I couldn't honestly answer a question without thinking about it for several minutes, hours, or even a day or two.

That said, this is a study I would love to do with a group of other women. It would also probably be a great study for a MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group. I recommend this book to any woman who wants to dig deeper into the lives of the women in the New Testament.


Mindy Ferguson
In a world that urges us to live for ourselves, Mindy Ferguson encourages women to live for Christ. She founded Fruitful Word Ministries in April 2003 and is passionate about encouraging women of all denominations to develop a more intimate and fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ through the study of God's Word.


Mindy stumbled her way into the arms of Christ at the age of twenty-six. She speaks nationally at women's events and at retreats as one who understands the tug of worldly passions and the emptiness of selfish ambition. Her writings have appeared in Christianity Today's Kyria.com, the P31 Woman magazine, Just Between Us magazine, Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul, and the One Year Life Verse Devotional. Mindy is the author of the in-depth Bible study, Walking with God: From Slavery to Freedom; Living the Promised Life. Mindy latest book, Hugs Bible Reflections for Women, is now available in bookstores.


Mindy lives in a suburb of Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-two years and their daughter. Their son is currently attending college in Bryan, Texas. You can find out more about Mindy at her website and blog.


Thanks, Mindy, for letting me review this book, and offering up a copy to one of my lucky readers. 

Interested in a copy of The Women in Jesus' Life? Leave a comment in this post for a chance to win! You can also purchase a copy for $9.99 through Amazon.com. The giveaway will close midnight CDT on Labor Day (Sept. 6, 2010), and the winner will be announced sometime on Sept. 7.

Until next time,

Monday, August 23, 2010

HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?!?

Tony Lavoie
"HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?!?"

"Do what?"

"You killed her! You killed my favorite character! I loved her and you killed her! How could you do that to me?"

"I had to. THE STORY demanded it."

"What do you mean, the story demanded it? You're the author, for Pete's sake! You could have killed off the other one. I like him too, but you killed off the character I loved most!"

"Not 'the story', 'THE STORY'. In capitals. Yes, I could have killed off a different character, but that wouldn't have been true to THE STORY. It would have broken it."

"You're cold. Cruel and cold."

"I'm not cold."

"You're cold and heartless and you're the author, for Pete's sake! You're writing the thing, so you can change anything you want!"

"I can't. I have to write THE STORY as it happens. I'd be a liar otherwise."

"I loved her and you killed her. How could you do that to me?"

"I didn't do it to you. I wrote it that way because--"

"I know I know! Because THE STORY demanded it. I get it. You can't change it because you'd break the story."

"Please don't mock me."

"I'm not. I'm sorry. I'm just hurting. It hurt to read that. A lot. You have no idea how much."

"I know how much it hurt."

"How could you? How can you even write something like that unless you don't feel it?"

"I do feel it. As much as it hurt you to read it, you only had to read it once. I had to write it. I had to live her death in my head over and over as I wrote it and re-wrote it and edited it and edited it again. When she died, I wept. I still shed tears every time I read the scene. Every time the orphanage is attacked, I weep for the children suddenly swept from their home. Every time my starfighter pilot blacks out and has those terrible, despairing visions, I feel her pain. Every time my pirate breaks his leg, I cry out silently. When Dumbledore falls, I fall. When the Galactica's back snapped, I cringed. When Obi-Wan's heart breaks over the loss of his brother Anakin, my heart breaks. I feel. Sometimes I think writers feel more than readers do, in general. Or maybe we just feel things more closely."

"How can you write things like that and not break down? You described every bit of her death, her pain, and his pain at losing her. It took three pages! Didn't that hurt to write?"

"Terribly. There were times I had to take a break from writing for a while because it hurt so much. It took a long time to write that one guy's despair over his loss in the previous book, because I had to put my pen down every now and then so I could regroup."

"Pen? You mean laptop."

"Figuratively speaking. I'm a writer...I'm allowed to use metaphors."

"I never saw you feeling down like that."

"It passes quickly. I make a decision before going into a dark or troubling scene to stop when it becomes too dark or intense, and come back to it later. I make sure I have bright and happy things to come out to, like my kids, or some time on the lake, or a good film or something. All of that helps me cope with the darkness."

"Darkness? Isn't that a bit melodramatic?"

"A bit. I'm a writer, remember?"

"So why write stuff like that if it hurts so much?"

"Because THE STORY demands it. We are creatures of emotion. If I had written the scene without emotion, you wouldn't have read it. Well, not with the same impact, anyway. It wouldn't have meant as much to you, therefore it would have been a broken story."

"Don't you mean STORY?"

"Heh. No. Because at that point it would have ceased to be THE STORY and would have become merely a story."

"I don't know. I think it could have been written a little less painfully."

"Finish reading it. Without bringing you to this low, the high that's coming wouldn't mean as much."

"It gets better?"

"Read on. I think you won't be disappointed. If THE STORY demanded this much pain and loss and despair, don't you think it might also demand an equal or even greater measure of joy and laughter and light?"

"Really? There's joy coming? I can't imagine feeling joy after her death."

"No, but THE STORY can. Give it a chance. Read the rest."

"Okay, I'll finish it. But you'd better not hurt me this much again in any other stories!"

"No promises. It all depends on what THE STORY demands."

"So if you feel pain while you write pain, you must also feel joy when you write joy, then."

"Yes, well, that's the theory anyway."

----

Tony Lavoie is a sometime writer of fiction--at least, in his own mind, which, admittedly, isn't always the most reliable of machines.  After all, he also sometimes steps out of his door at night and gets lost in the stars.

When his feet are planted on the Earth, he can occasionally be found at http://papergizmo.com. If he's not there, just leave a message. He'll get back to you as soon as the stars let him go. While you're there, though, you should read his published stories.


Thanks for guest blogging, Tony!


Last, but not least, of our guest bloggers is up next in September: Linda Yezak. Stay tuned for her post, as well as another review in the next couple weeks.

Until next time,


Monday, August 09, 2010

Finding Time to Write

A writer must make time to write every day. Even if she can only peck out a few words or sentences, it’s better than not writing at all.

What of the writer who, like me, has a day job? I come home tired, yet I have to fix dinner or risk starvation. The laundry monster roars, cats demand food, litter boxes need scooping and …

The list is endless.

Yet, I’m still supposed to write?

Absolutely!

True, those of us who work have less time than stay-at-home writers, but it can be done.

  • Carry a tape recorder with you. Record those ideas as they come and get them on paper later. Think about your manuscript while shopping for groceries, on your commute, or while you’re brushing your teeth. Sometimes my best ideas come to me while I’m in the shower.
  • If you have a laptop, take it to work with you. On your lunch break, find a private location and get busy. If you don’t own a laptop, print out the latest chapter and edit it while you eat your bologna sandwich.
  • One writer I met uses Documents To Go on her BlackBerry. The app has a Word document, and while her car’s getting an oil change, or when she’s waiting at the doctor’s office, she works on her manuscript. Once she gets home, she uploads to her desktop computer. Another writer takes her laptop to her kid’s soccer games.
  • Set a time every day and dedicate it to writing, even if you can only manage thirty minutes. If time is a problem, set a word count goal. You’d be surprised how fast 250 words a day (about one page, double spaced) can add up.
  • Turn off the TV.

If writing is important to you, you must make time for it. But it does call for dedication. Sometimes it requires a firm voice to family members, or a lock on your office door.

Billy Crystal’s character in Throw Mama from the Train said, “A writer writes. Always.” So, what are you waiting for? Shake the muse awake.

And start writing.


Lorna wrote her first story when she was twelve years old. In 1992 Country Extra magazine published one of her short stories. She writes a blog, Myriad Musings, and is working on a novel called Wounded Hearts.



Until next time,

Monday, August 02, 2010

Winner of "A Tidbit Romance"

Okay, somehow last week got away from me. I completely forgot about the giveaway!

Better late than never, eh?

Well, our winner is none other than....


Cindy R. Wilson!!!

Congratulations, Cindy! Please contact me through the "Contact Me" link in the column to the right with your mailing address. I'll make sure you get a copy of this great devotional just as quick as can be.

Thanks so much! And, look for another review of a new Bible study on August 30.

Until next time,

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