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!

9 comments:

  1. Love Joanna Weaver. And you. Thanks for the great share!

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    1. Isn't she great?! Thanks for dropping by, Jo Ann! Love you too friend!

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  2. Gay, Thank you for this enlightening interview with Joanna. I especially liked Joanna's encouragement on Bible Study "start small but begin". How timely that message is to me! Not just in Bible Study but for lifestyle changes( new diet, increased exercise, etc.), as well.
    I have learned in order to spend more quality time with God I don't need to actually read the Bible. I can set my cell phone to a Bible Reading App which I can listen to while I am straightening my house or out walking the dog. I find myself meditating on those scriptures throughout my day.

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    1. Kathy, thank you for visiting! That was a key point for me to take in as well…'start small but begin". Love your idea of listening as you go about your day. I do spend time in the word each morning but it is too easy to step away and not keep in mind what I have read. I think that I will start journaling more with what I do read and make sure a take a key verse with me throughout the day. Love this idea!
      Again, thanks for stopping by and leaving comment <3! Blessings!

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  3. Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing:)

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    1. Thanks for visiting! I love the encouragement!
      blessings!

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  4. This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for visiting!

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blessings,
Gay