Readers are always fascinated by the people behind the books they love. If you have read Debbie W. Wilson’s new book Little Women, BIG GOD
(or if you’ve read my review here
on the blog), your mind may be buzzing with questions as mine was. Debbie has an official website
where you can learn that she has a previously published study called Give Yourself a Break;
that she and her husband share their “empty nest” with two standard poodles; that she blogs at Refreshing Faith
; and that in addition to writing, she is trained as a biblical counselor and serves as a Bible teacher. However, I had specific questions about her writing and about her new book, so I asked Debbie if she would mind doing an interview for me readers here at Living Our Days.
She has graciously agreed, so I invite you to pour a fresh cup of coffee (or tea!) and enjoy our conversation.
1. Debbie, I really enjoyed reading Little Women, BIG God, and was intrigued by the test at the beginning. For those who haven’t yet read the book, I’ll quickly explain that the reader answers questions to determine which of the women in Jesus’ genealogy they most resemble. I came out with a tie between Naomi and Tamar. (I need to spend some time thinking about that one!) Do you mind sharing what your results were? What do you think this reveals about you?
My agent suggested creating a personality test. Since I love reading books on
personality types and have used the DISC profiles with some coaching clients, I
loved the idea. Instead of trying to make these women fit any particular
personality profile, I wrote down traits I observed in them. I came out as Ruth.
When I told my daughter, she said, “Of course you did. I could have told you
that!” I’m not sure what that means. But I do identify with Ruth’s willingness to
leave home and venture into the unknown to follow God. God has taken me on a
few adventures that meant saying goodbye to the familiar.
2. I’m interested in the story behind your latest study because you indicate that it came about as a result of a class you taught. Do you see yourself as a writer who loves to teach or as a teacher who loves to write?
Great question. This study began as a simple summer small group study. I
thought it would be fun to look at these women’s stories from their perspective. I
asked only ten questions about each woman that first study. (You see how much
it has evolved since then.) I had been familiar with the women before, but when I
read their stories from their point of view, the pain and losses each one
experienced touched me deeply. And seeing how God rescued and protected
each one showcased His love and grace for ordinary women everywhere.
I love to learn and share what I’m learning. So maybe I’m a learner who loves to
communicate! I particularly enjoy groups that allow for discussion. We humans
wrestle with common issues. I want people to know they are not alone in their
struggles and to see the relevance of Scripture to their everyday lives.
3. I loved how you used point of view in getting your readers into the experience of the women you profiled. For instance, you imagined that Tamar’s hands would have been shaking as she put on her veil. Can you share a bit about your process for identifying with women who lived centuries ago?
Most people give sensible answers when asked what they dreamed of becoming
when they grew up. I wanted to be Peter Pan or Annie Oakley. I think God
redeemed my gift of imagination for my study of the Bible.
With Tamar, I could imagine her emotions swirling when she remembered how
each of the men in Judah’s family had wronged her, how Judah continued to
deny her the right to a child by withholding his youngest son and by keeping her
a widow, thus not freeing her to marry into another family. I imagined her
trembling as she set her jaw and mind to pick up that prostitute’s veil knowing
that Judah had the power to have her killed but thinking the chance was worth
the risk of death.
4. Your family is very important to you, and I love that your adult kids are your best friends. Do you have mentors who have shaped your understanding of Scripture? Are there favorite writers who have influenced your style or your writing process? When you have time to read a book “just for fun,” where do you turn?
What great questions! C. S. Lewis is my favorite author. I never get tired of The
Chronicles of Narnia and The Great Divorce. The Lord of the Rings trilogy,
Pilgrim’s Progress, and stories that hold layers of meaning resonate with me.
When we lived in California, Chuck Swindoll was our pastor. I’m sure his good
teaching and emphasis on grace impacted me. Dan Lane, my first director on
staff with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ), taught me a simple three-question
method of studying the Bible that made it come alive for me. (I offer a free
download of “How to Get a Personal Word from God” in the sidebar on my
website.) Dan also emphasized the sovereignty of God and the importance of
time with God. I owe a great debt to him.
The writing courses I took from Jerry B. Jenkin’s Christian Writer’s Guild taught
me the importance of tight writing. For entertainment, nothing beats a good
adventure, like a Mrs. Pollifax story, or a mystery for me. Mary Higgins Clark and
Lisa Carter are two authors I enjoy. Lisa lives in the area and her stories are
often set either here or in Arizona where my husband grew up.
5. What has been your biggest challenge in writing and publishing a book? With this being your second book (following Give Yourself a Break: Discover the Secrets to God’s Rest) what advice can you offer to prospective authors?
One of my biggest challenges is to let go. There is always a better way to say
something. Or I gain a new insight. At some point you have to let it go and trust
that God’s Word will accomplish what it was sent out to do (Is. 55:11).
Bible study changed my life, so I want people to experience the relevancy and
power of it. When I tiptoed into the publishing world, I quickly learned publishers prefer regular books. While regular books have greatly impacted me, I felt these two books needed to be Bible studies. So I’d say, if you sense you have a calling, bring your desire to God to see if it is from Him. If it is, persevere. I’m glad I waited until my agent found a publisher that wanted to publish Little Women, Big God as a Bible study. I believe God used the waiting time.
6. Tucker, our St. Bernard, sends greetings to your two poodles. Are there other interest that you and your husband share that have drawn you closer during these years of the empty nest? How has ministering together over the years impacted on your marriage relationship?
Max and Cosette send their greetings to Tucker! Our poodles are part of the
family. Max is 85 pounds of love and stubbornness. Cosette is 54 pounds of play.
Larry and I enjoy the coast especially in the spring and fall. We like to ride bikes,
walk in the sand, and stare at the water. We also take an occasional ballroom
dance class together. I love to dance, and Larry loves me! So we have fun.
Larry and I met when we were both on staff with Cru. I love sharing ministry
together. We have different spiritual gifts and often approach situations from
different perspectives. Larry’s wisdom in dealing with people still astounds me.
Even though, at this point, our ministries are expressed in different venues
(counseling for him, teaching and writing for me) we still discuss and overlap in
some regular activities.
7. There is a gentleness in your writing and teaching about God that I find to be unique and very comforting. What do you think has contributed to your portrayal of and emphasis on the love and acceptance of God for his dearly loved people?
Thank you, Michele. I guess we can be oblivious to how we come across. You
aren’t the first person to tell me that. Today I received an email saying, “Your blogs reveal a sensitive heart…put through a fire.” Paul wrote that we comfort with the comfort we have received from God. If comfort comes through then it must be from experiencing Jesus in my own journey.
8. As a parent of adult children, I’m sure there are things that you look back on with joy, and other things that you wish you could do differently. What memories give you the greatest joy? Are there areas that you would like to encourage parents to pay attention to that you have learned in hindsight?
I am goal oriented doer. It takes effort for me to disconnect and be still. I’ve
learned being quiet is a necessary part of being close. You don’t jump into
meaningful conversations. You usually warm up to them. Turning off the engine
and just being with my family is important if I want to build deep connections. My greatest joy is having my children walk with the Lord. The times I’ve seen them stand alone in their faith in order to be true to their Lord thrilled my heart.
9. Do you have a favorite passage of Scripture or a most influential verse?
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:14 NIV) is definitely one of them.
10. Imagine that it’s a Saturday morning, the sun is shining, you and your husband have a clear calendar for the day. Describe a perfect Wilson-date!
We enjoy exploring new areas, walking around pretty neighborhoods, gardens, or wooded trails. If we are at the beach, walking in the sand by the ocean and
breathing in the salt air or a bike ride followed by good food! I guess we’re pretty simple folks.
I guess the Wilsons and the Morins are a lot alike in that way!
Thanks, Debbie, for taking time to chat with me and my readers. May you experience God’s richest blessings as you share your book with women everywhere who need to be reminded that it’s not the size of their problems that matters, but the size of their God!
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