Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have a double treat for you—a joint interview with beloved children’s book authors Crystal Bowman and Michelle S. Lazurek, who teamed up to write their latest book!
Welcome, Crystal and Michelle! Please tell us about your book, Who God Wants Me to Be.
Four ambitious young girls explore different careers as they trust God to become who he created them to be. Each girl imagines three different careers as they follow their desires and interests while wanting to help people, animals, and make the world a better place.
I love this! Michelle, what inspired you to write this book?
This book began as a vision. I had written a book called Daddy, Am I Beautiful? a few years before which was about a girl who understands that beauty is from within, not in what you look like. I wanted to write an equally empowering book to help young girls discover who they can be when they grow up, but also realize God has a plan for their lives. I want them to discover a career that goes in line with God’s plan. I was having trouble with the manuscript, so I emailed Crystal and asked for her help. Then I asked if she wanted to partner with me and she said yes. I’m incredibly blessed by our partnership.
What a fun collaboration! Crystal, what is the primary focus of the book?
I loved Michelle’s vision for the book and was thrilled when she asked me to coauthor with her. We want the book to inspire girls to imagine their future careers with confidence and intention, trusting God to guide them along the way, which may mean changing their minds a few times.
As a woman who has had careers in pharmacy and writing, I applaud this focus! Michelle, what do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope this book does three things:
- Encourage parents to pray for and with them- we pray for their spouses and for their salvation, but sometimes we let careers go by the wayside. God has a plan for them in their careers as he does for anything else.
- Affirm girls in their giftings- know them well enough to know what their strengths are as well as their weaknesses. Gently guide them in that direction so they can emphasize their strengths and don’t get stuck in a job that doesn’t help them work in their wheelhouse.
- Help girls root their identity in Christ- Jesus struck a balance between “I am the son of God,” and then other times he said, “Who am I?” He always knew who he was, and he was never swayed by what others thought or put himself into the box of who others wanted him to be. I pray girls always carry a posture of “who am I?” rather than “I am he.” This means sometimes God knew when to assert his authority as God’s son and other times he assumed a posture of a lowly servant. When girls can strike the same balance between confidence and humility like Jesus, they’ll be just fine. Your career does not define you, because that may change. Your identity in “whose” you are never does.
Such an important lesson! Crystal, what was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
We wanted to feature diversity in ethnicity as well as in their careers, without being stereotypical. In the book, we offer twelve different career choices, which include both traditional and not traditional roles for females. From being a doctor or firefighter to a stay-at-home mom or an artist, each career has value and purpose and we wanted to clearly get that message across. One of our characters also has a disability and it is never mentioned in the text. She is portrayed as an equal with the other girls.
What a beautiful idea. Michelle, what themes do you return to in your writing?
Whether it’s to women or to girls, I love writing about women understanding their identity in Christ and being empowered to be everything that God has called them to be.
Crystal, why do you love writing?
It’s what God created me to do. My writing brain rarely stops. My husband catches me talking to myself and smiles because he knows I’m writing something in my head. I write stories to help kids learn more about God. I want them to know that God created them for a purpose and that he loves them very much. This message is also for the adult who is reading the book to a child, so the stories are reaching two audiences at the same time.
Michelle, how has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
When I wrote my first book in 2008, it was a Christian living nonfiction. A study on the book of John. I researched the reason why John called himself, “The Disciple Jesus Loved” and was struck by how many times he called himself this in his own gospel. As I read commentaries and studied the concept, I fell in love with Scripture in a new way. It’s one thing to simply read the Bible; it’s quite another to understand deeply the meanings behind it. When I studied the Word for myself, I felt like God was speaking to me in a new way. My prayer is that every person will learn to study scripture for themselves so they can fall in love with God in a new way too.
Crystal, do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I was a preschool teacher before having children. That was long before the days of finding helpful resources on the internet. On cold, Michigan days, rather than heading to the teachers’ store or library, I would write my own songs, stories, or fingerplays. I enjoyed the process, and it was especially rewarding to see children respond positively to my material. After teaching for several years, I raised three children and now have eight grandchildren. My life has always been surrounded by children, so I have plenty of material for my writing. My deepest desire to teach them about God’s love.
Michelle, what ministries are you involved in and why?
I lead the women’s ministry in my church as well as volunteer as part of our Missions team. I help collect donations for our high school’s food bank so the kids in our area can bring home food to eat after school. I also sing on my church’s worship team, as well as run a women’s small group. I want to make disciples and meet real needs within our community, as well as equip our church to meet those needs.
Crystal, what are your favorite hobbies or activities outside of writing?
I love to walk outdoors, cross country ski, and go to my grandkids’ sporting events whenever I can. We have kids and grands in 3 different states, so I call myself the traveling grandma.
Michelle, you are a busy woman! How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
I’m a type A organized person. I’m proactive and well-motivated so I’m good at imposing deadlines and sticking to those deadlines until tasks are completed. I still have two teens at home so I must make sure I get as much work done during a normal workday so I can be home for my children when they’re done with school.
All right, ladies! What’s coming next from you?
Michelle: My next book is with partner Donna Wyland called Pockets Full of Shells, a story about collecting shells to bring joy to kids who are in a children’s hospital. It even teaches kids about different types to look for the next time they are at the beach.
Crystal: I have two books coming out soon. Good Morning, God Loves You (Tyndale) is an adorable board book I coauthored with Teri McKinley. It celebrates waking up to a world filled with animals praising God for his love. Also, Tell Me Whoo Whoo You Are (End Game Press) is a board book I coauthored with Sandy Drake. It helps children find their identity and know that God made them and loves them.
Those all sound delightful! I’m sure your little readers will adore them. Thank you for sharing with us!
To learn more about Crystal and Michelle and their books, please visit:
Crystal’s website at https://crystalbowman.com/
Michelle’s website at http://www.michellelazurek.com/
Writing for Him,
Sarah’s website: https://www.sarahsundin.com/
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