Saturday, July 18, 2015

Joanna Weaver: An Interview with the Author of Lazarus Awakening


www.joannaweaverbooks.com
Joanna Weaver

I am so excited to introduce you to my new friend, author, Joanna Weaver! It has been such a blessing getting to know her better over the past months while serving on the launch team for the release of her latest companion DVD Bible study: Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God. It was filmed in Israel and releases on July 21, 2015.


I was already familiar with another of Joanna's studies that I had gone through years ago, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I loved that study! You can read my review on that study here: Mary Heart. 



It is such a joy to find that Joanna is so genuine and I have loved getting to hear some of the longings of her heart as they pertain to her relationship with her Lord and with her friends and family. 

Joanna is sweet, humble and passionate about God's Word. She's the real deal! I hope that you will enjoy this interview and that it will inspire you to check out her other books…especially her latest book and DVD Bible Study:Lazarus Awakening:Finding Your Place In the Heart of God. Be sure to read to the bottom of this post to find out how you can win the Giant Bible Study In a Box!
Let's get to know Joanna a bit more. 

Here's a quick Bio...

Please welcome author, Joanna Weaver. She is the author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, which has sold over a million copies. Other books include Having a Mary SpiritLazarus Awakening, and a devotional, At the Feet of Jesus. Her books and companion DVD Bible studies have been used by hundreds of churches as well as home groups and individuals.
Joanna speaks at conferences and retreats around the country and internationally as well. Her passion is to see women experience the incredible love and grace of God so that they can become all He created them to be.
Joanna’s articles have appeared in publications such as Focus on the FamilyGuideposts, and HomeLife. Awards include: Platinum Award for Having a Mary Heart in a World; Reader’s Choice Award finalist for Lazarus Awakening; and a Silver Medallion Award for With This Ring, a wedding gift book. She was also named Mount Hermon’s Christian Writers Conference “Most Promising Writer” and chosen for the Guideposts Writer’s Workshop. Joanna has been the guest on many national radio and television programs including Focus on the Family, Midday Connection, HomeWord and Harvest TV.
Joanna’s greatest joy is found in being a wife and mother of three, as well as serving the Lord beside her husband John in full-time ministry. The Weavers reside in the beautiful “Big Sky” state of Montana.

The Interview...

Where did your love and passion for the Word come from?
I wish I could say I always had a passion for God’s Word, but to be honest, it wasn’t until I was 28 years old that I really learned how to read the Bible in a meaningful way. Though I’d grown up in the church knowing I was supposed to have a “quiet time,” I’d never learned how to do it.
A Navigator’s 2:7 discipleship class changed all that. As I learned how to study God’s Word, really thinking about what I read and responding to it, my passion for the Bible grew.
I once heard Greg Laurie say, “Spiritual hunger is different than natural hunger. When we’re hungry in the natural, we eat and we’re satisfied. But when we’re hungry in the spiritual, it isn’t until we begin to eat that we realize how hungry we are!”
That’s been true in my life – the more time I spend in God’s Word, the more I want!
In your studies, you encourage women to take time to pray and journal as they read the Bible. What about this process do you find so important?
Prayerful journaling helps us to slow down and absorb what we’re reading. For so much of my life, when it came to reading the Bible I was like the man of James 1:23-24 who “listens to the word” but immediately walks away forgetting what he’s heard.
But when I learned how to journal about what I’d read, God’s Word began to come alive. Rather than reading the Bible through in a year (like I assumed every good Christian was required to do!), I began reading less so I could meditate more. It’s a method I still use today.
I read scripture slowly, asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth to my heart. When something stands out, I write out the verse(s) in my journal and a response to what I sense God is speaking and ways that I can apply the truth to my life.   
I’m excited about sharing this process in all of my new DVD Bible studies, because I believe God wants to speak to us all. But we have to slow down and listen. Learning to journal our journey with God really helps us do just that.
Many women struggle to find time to do a study or engage with the Bible in the midst of marriage, a career, raising children, and more. What advice or words of encouragement would you offer to women attempting to balance time spent with God with the demands of a family and other responsibilities? 
“Start small, but begin” – that’s what the Puritans used to say. We’ve got to set aside our all-or-nothing tendencies and simply accept the invitation Mary enjoyed when she sat at Jesus’s feet listening to what He said. It’s helped me to remember that God isn’t looking for perfection, He longs for relationship. So I’m learning to invite Him into my day. 
Before I get out of bed in the morning, I pray: “Lord, come take the throne of my heart. Lead and guide me, interrupt me if you wish. I don’t want You to be a part of my life – I want You to BE my life!”   
But I also try to prioritize time in the Word. Even if it’s just five minutes, I look for a scripture to meditate on so that I can think about it through the day.
How has Christ challenged you personally as you’ve written and developed Bible studies?
God rarely allows me to write about things I feel an expertise in. Instead, He asks me to be a learner – and in a sense, a fellow struggler with those who read my book – as He teaches us the message He’s laid on my heart. 
Because writing is the hardest thing I do, the process makes me absolutely dependent on the Holy Spirit! While working on Lazarus Awakening, I went through an extended period of writer’s block. My head was absolutely quiet. I’d sit down and literally couldn’t put a single word on the screen. 
During that time, I discovered that Jesus’s words are true: “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). That’s a difficult but wonderful lesson to learn – especially when our helplessness makes us turn to God.
How do you go about developing a new book or study?
Writing a book or study isn’t something I decide to do on my own. Instead, God slowly lays a message on my heart until it comes alive to me. Each book has been a little different (you can read the backstories at my website), but the inspiration usually comes in layers of repeated themes and confirmations. 
Finally, God gives me a sense of knowing that this is the book He wants me to write. After brainstorming content and sketching out chapters, I write a proposal which my agent takes to my publisher. 
After the book is accepted, I enter an intense season of study and research – which I love! Only after that do I begin to write. While I have a strong idea of what the book is about, in a very real sense, I write to find out. Which means there are a lot of twists and turns, detours and backtracking required before reaching the finished product. 
It isn’t a pretty process, but it’s mine. One I’ve learned to appreciate because of the utter dependency on God that it produces.
As a writer and Bible teacher, what themes or characters in the Bible are you interested in studying and writing about next?
For years, I’ve longed to write a book about trusting God – over a decade, in fact! In my opinion, there’s nothing more important than this pivotal question: “Will I trust God?” It’s not “can I?” or “should I?”…it all comes down to this: “will I?”
When something bad happens and I’m tempted to fear – God whispers, “Will you trust me?” When my hopes and dreams seem derailed – “Will you trust me?” And on those days when my strength is gone and my to-do list goes unfinished, I hear Him say, “Will you trust me with that as well?” 
So I’m hoping one day I’ll get to write that book. But first, God is asking me to trust Him by taking a sabbatical of sorts to focus on my family and our church for the next six months to a year.
“Trust in me, Joanna,” I hear God whisper. “Rest in Me.” So that’s what I plan to do.
 Joanna, where can we find your books and more about you?
Thanks for asking! You can find my books and DVD studies at my website www.joannaweaverbooks.com. You can also find them on B&N, Amazon, Parable, Christianbook.com, and possibly other independent books stores. The new companion DVD Bible study for Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God releases on July 21, 2015. Filmed in Israel, the video sessions feature Joanna teaching about the halfway life too many of settle for, even as Christians. “It’s time to step out of our tombs and shed the graveclothes that have bound us far too long,” Joanna says. “It’s time to ‘come forth’ into abundant life Jesus came to give!”
 Joanna, it has been such a pleasure to have you!
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You can also follow Joanna on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.

http://bit.ly/studyinabox

Be sure to enter  the “Giant Bible-Study-in-a-Box Giveaway”!! 

Just head over here and enter to win! 
It features everything needed to host a study for 24 people, including DVDs, books, and study guides – this grand prize drawing takes place July 21st at 8:00 pm MDT.

Oh…and please leave a comment below! What has helped you spend more quality time with God? I'm sure Joanna would love to hear from you. I would too!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Remembering the Fallen on Memorial Day

I'm sitting at my desk this evening and pondering. 

Looking out my home office window I watch the sun as it slips below the mountains in the distance casting amazingly brilliant red and yellow hues across the sky as if to shine out in all it's glory one last hurrah before it vanishes into the dark night sky. 
And I wonder as I consider all the lives lost on the battlefields.  Was their death one of valiant glory…one of honor? 
Who was left behind? What is their story? 

It's so easy just to think of Memorial Day as another opportunity for a three-day weekend, family cookouts, and a chance to get out on the golf course or the lake… a time to just kick back and relax. It has been that for me in years past…as I have given a quick thought and a prayer of thankfulness to God for those who were willing to lay their own lives down for my freedom.  

But for some reason this year it has me pondering. Perhaps it's my age. Being a grandmother, I can't help but think of the future of my grandchildren. Or maybe it's that I feel our country seems to be at a crossroads.  And so I reflect on the bravery of men and women who have been willing to lay down their lives serving our country, defending our borders, and sustaining our freedoms.

I also wonder. How many people really know what Memorial Day is all about?  As a young girl, I remember seeing the red poppies on Memorial Day. It's been a while since I've seen those. There is a story behind the poppies and the lady who made them popular as a symbol of Memorial Day. You can read about the red poppies and the history of Memorial Day here: Memorial Day History

Memorial Day began as a somber day of remembrance. It was actually called Decoration Day at one time because this was the day when Americans went to cemeteries to place flags or flowers on the graves of those who have died in war. A day to remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.


This day continues as a day to honor those who have died in war in service to our country. For some, the day is a very personal one. Their own stories intermingle with those who are now gone. I live just the next town over from a very well known Naval Air Force Base. We have many young military families who attend Journey.  I have come to love and appreciate these young families. I am humbled by the level of honor and commitment they display to our country and sometimes I get just a glimpse of the sacrifice they pay.

My friend, Brittany, posted this letter today. It is from her friend's daughter…written to her daddy this Memorial Day.


So I remember that for each fallen hero there are loved ones left behind to pick up the pieces and carry on. I pray for their strength and courage as they face each new day. I ask that God will comfort them in their loss and grant to them the peace that passes understanding.  I say thank you…please know that my sympathy, respect, and prayers are with you all this day. 

As the day comes to a close, I wonder how many realize the sobering truth of this day's significance? How many have fallen? How many are left behind? Are we teaching our children to honor those who have fought and died for our freedoms?

I close with this picture and the words of one little boy named Asher…who upon visiting the Northern Nevada Veteran's Memorial Cemetery today with his sweet mama, declared, "Whoa! That's a lot of heroes!"

Remembering all those who made the ultimate sacrifice. God bless. ✝


"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13


Have a memorable Memorial Day








Thursday, March 19, 2015

Keep Calm and Write On…The Writer's Life

To begin again…

I'm sure since I haven't posted in quite some time now, some of you think that perhaps I have quit writing altogether. I have written since my last post but admittedly, very little. I don't know that I can even say what has been holding me back, but I do know that I must begin again. God has called me to write and I cannot quit.




Quitting is just not an option. But instead of stubbornly saying, "I won't quit", I choose to say, " I will persevere in this call to write!"

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't. - Henry Ward Beecher
It helps to know that there are those in my life who believe that God has given me this charge and this gift to write.  I want to thank you for encouraging me to step fully into this calling. You know who you are. 

And yet, I still...

  • struggle to call myself a writer.
  • struggle with the writing process.
  • struggle to step into this calling.
  • struggle with the question, 'Am I equipped for this?' 
  • struggle with the fact that, yes, sometimes writing is just hard work!
"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something that this thing must be attained."  - Marie Curie
I am in agreement with this quote by Marie Curie in that I do believe I am gifted for this writing journey…therefore I cannot just quit. I must press on. But my confidence comes in knowing that, because God has called me to this, He will provide the means, the strength, and the way to make it happen. Frankly, I am relieved to know that I don't have to rely on my own strength in this endeavor.  

It would seem that most writers have struggled with the doubts about who they are and even seem reluctant to say, "I am a writer."  There is comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my struggle.  Here are just a sampling of quotes I have collected from successful writers who understand the struggle.


Every Writer I know has trouble writing. -Joseph Heller, author
I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.- Gustave Flaubert
Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead. -Gene Fowler 
Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. - Ernest Hemingway 
I can't write five words but that I change seven. - Dorothy Parker
And then there's the quote from Jerry B. Jenkins, of Left Behind fame. In his book to writers, Writing For The Soul, he was asked the question, "Why write if you don't like writing?"
It's not that I hate going to the keyboard, but I put it off, dreading the encounter, especially getting started. Then the story draws me in, and I'm off and running. I don't know anyone who sits at the computer with a grin thinking, This is the most fun I've had all day. I'd rather do this than play.  
 That's me! I put it off. The getting started part…yeah…I get it. It's like there is this invisible force field around the keys of my computer holding me off. It's like…do-do-do-do...There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone  Writing Zone.  That's it! Thank you, Rod Serling!! 

Created with Keep-Calm-O-Matic, Gay Idle


But seriously…there are so many other things I have on the to-do list. Even the laundry is calling my name…wooing me away from the keyboard. What?!! I don't even enjoy doing laundry! Who does?    

But here's the thing. I am a writer. I have made the decision to pursue this writing life. The pursuit of anything worthwhile is often fraught with obstacles along the path. But I am committed to this path, so write I must!

I believe this writing gig to be one of the instruments through which God will fulfill the greater calling He has placed on my life.



When God calls us to something, it never means the road will be an easy one. (Tweet this). But I know that with surrender to Him comes peace and joy. And that, my friends, will be worth all the struggle! 

What about you? Have you been called to something that seems insurmountable? I'd love to hear what you are doing to overcome the obstacles. Join in the discussion in the comment section below. 


"Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us,"







Writer's Life Update:

While I haven't posted on the blog in a while, I did manage to get an article written for The Kingdom Life Now, A women's online magazine about belonging and becoming in the Kingdom of God. Check out the magazine and subscribe! You'll be blessed!

You can go directly to my article by following this link: Let It Go: When Your Dreams Are Derailed. I would love to know what you think about letting go of dreams so leave a comment there.