Welcome, readers. Davalynn Spencer from Colorado here, where it’s snowy and Christmassy already. Please welcome today’s featured author, Dianne Neal Matthews.
Dianne, please give us a quick overview of your book Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily.
Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily offers a daily dose of encouragement and wisdom for your stepfamily journey. Topics include parenting and step-parenting, strengthening your marriage, grief in the stepfamily, bonding with children, co-parenting with exes, and practical wisdom for bringing family members together.
This already sounds like a book someone in my family would benefit from, Dianne. What led you to write it?
Ron L. Deal is a nationally recognized expert in the area of blended families, the Founder and President of Smart Stepfamilies, and Director of Blended Family Ministries for FamilyLife. I was honored to work on this devotional book with Ron. His compassion and understanding of the unique needs and circumstances of stepfamilies are evident throughout his writings and his ministry.
Do you have a singular focus for the book?
The 365 short readings are designed to help a family continue bonding and growing stronger throughout the year. Some devotions focus on a scriptural principle; others offer practical tips for dealing with a specific issue or share the true story of a stepfamily who successfully overcame a hurdle. The book also addresses holidays and seasons and how they relate to blended families. Each day ends with a prayer targeted toward the day’s theme.
What do you hope readers will take away?
I hope that readers will come away with a renewed awareness of God’s unconditional and redeeming love and His desire to help us become more like Christ. I hope that readers will share the devotions with their spouse and, when appropriate, with kids, sparking valuable conversations that strengthen family understanding and closeness.
Has being a writer impacted your own relationship with Christ?
Writing biblically-based nonfiction has encouraged me to dig more deeply into God’s Word. It has also made me more open to seeing Christ’s presence and working in my everyday life and in the world around me. I have learned to depend on His help when facing an impending deadline or any other writing-related difficulty. This is helping me learn to cling to Him in every area of life.
That is indeed a lesson we all need refreshment courses on from time to time. What inspired you to choose the devotional approach?
I love finding creative ways to illustrate a Bible verse or spiritual principle, whether using elements of nature, historical events, pop culture trivia, current news, my own personal experiences, or any other source. I love drawing out practical application that proves how relevant the Bible is to our lives today. And the feedback I get from readers is priceless and motivates me to keep writing in this genre.
Regarding that feedback, can you tell us about a touching moment with a reader?
It’s such a blessing when someone tells me that a devotional has spoken to their specific situation, or they say that one of my books is a part of their regular quiet time. One young mom wrote that she had been feeling spiritually dry and no longer able to serve God. Then she bought a copy of The One Year Women of the Bible and began writing in a journal to record her thoughts on each day’s reading. She plans to pass the journal on to her two daughters someday. Comments like that remind me what a privilege it is to write devotionals.
What a great reward for an author’s labor. How about your own life – do you have dreams that remain, as yet, unfulfilled?
I’ve fantasized about writing a novel ever since I can remember, and I constantly play around with a number of characters and scenes in my head. The hard part is getting it onto paper. I find myself struggling with the same doubts and fears I had when I first started writing. Plus, my favorite ideas for a novel are historical settings, so I would have to recreate a time period in addition to creating a story. That thought overwhelms me, but I don’t think these characters will leave me alone until I at least attempt to write their story.
Are there other ministries or outreach you’re involved in?
I take advantage of a variety of opportunities to serve in my local church and community. Two areas important to me are Bible studies and women’s ministry. Right now I’m enjoying the role of table group leader in our church’s weekday morning Bible study for ladies. Studying the Word of God together, discussing how to apply it to our personal lives, nurturing relationships with other women, holding each other up in prayer, and enjoying great food. What’s not to love about a ministry like that?
You’re right – that sounds great. What types of books do you read for pleasure, and what are you reading right now?
I’ve always loved classic literature: works by Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, George Eliot. I also love Tolkien’s work. As for contemporary authors, two of my favorites are Frank Delaney and Stephen Lawhead. I recently discovered historical author Hazel Gaynor and enjoyed reading The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter and The Girl Who Came Home.
What’s next in your list of writing projects?
Right now I’m in the process of going through my collection of book ideas and praying for guidance as to which project to pursue next. I love interviewing and telling other people’s stories so would like to do more of that. I’m also considering trying my hand at writing Bible studies.
Thank you, Dianne, for giving us a glimpse into your busy writer’s life.
And thank you, readers, for stopping by today. If you would like to connect with Dianne, please visit Dianne’s website.
May all that you read be uplifting.
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