For the past six weeks we have treated you to first-hand glimpses of Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World. With her women's Bible study now on store shelves, we conclude our three-part interview with author Melissa Spoelstra:
AW: Which writers inspire you?
MS: It's a fairly long list! I'd include Tim Keller, Catherine Marshall, C.S. Lewis, Marilyn Hontz, Paul Tripp, Chip Ingram, Jen Hatmaker, Jill Briscoe, Beth Moore, Richard Stearns, Priscilla Shirer, Francine Rivers and Lynn Austin.
AW: What book/s are you reading at present?
MS: I usually have a fiction and a non-fiction always on the go. Most recently I read "Unbroken" (amazing book!) and "Forgiveness" by Adam Hamilton.
AW: What is your favorite book and why?
MS: "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. I love the main character Elizabeth because she is smart and witty. (I always think of the right comeback lying in bed at night– never right on the spot like Elizabeth). Her story unfolds as she realizes her own prejudices about her first impressions and her need for humility when her pride is realized. She gets a second chance to see things clearly and make a different decision.
AW: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
MS: Listen to God’s voice over everyone else’s (including your own insecurities). A phrase that I reminded myself of when I felt inadequate or stuck was, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” If He is calling you to write—do it. For Him and for yourself—then, if doors open for a broader audience, walk through every one of them, giving it all that you’ve got, and leave the results to Him. I also tell some of the women I mentor, to write often. Whether it’s in a journal, blog, or a manuscript for a book idea, writing helps us sort out our thoughts, hone in on what God is teaching us, and sometimes bless others in the process.
AW: What does your family think of your writing and becoming a published author?
MS: My husband is my biggest supporter and encourager. He could choose to be competitive or resentful about my time, but instead he celebrates, blesses and believes in me even when I am doubtful. My parents and siblings also pray for me and cheer me on to keep my eyes on Jesus through the highs and lows.
AW: What is the one thing readers might be most surprised to learn about you?
MS: Hmmm…two things come to mind. First—I can be competitive. Whether it’s bowling, tennis, or a good game of Settlers of Catan—I kinda like to win. My kids don’t like to play Monopoly with me anymore because I would swindle my way into owning everything on the board.
Second, I’m a pretty simple gal with more than a hint of redneck running through my veins. I am most comfortable in a pair of jeans sitting around with ordinary people doing regular stuff. After taping the videos for Jeremiah, it felt good to come home and spend a day doing laundry and grocery shopping with no fussing or special attention.
My idea of a girls' weekend doesn’t include spa days and shopping, but camping, canoeing or hiking. I believe in WD-40, duct tape, and if you saw the mirror on my passenger side van door, you wouldn’t question my redneck blood.
AW: Is there anything else you'd like to share?
MS: My grandma is one of my great inspirations. She loves me unconditionally and always made me feel special. I had slumber parties at her house, many Sunday afternoons wandering her 40 acres, and can recall her smiling face in the audience at all my boring piano recitals. She also wrote poems for special occasions like birthdays or the birth of my children. Although she didn’t get the opportunity to pursue education as she fell in love and got married right before WW2, she is one of the most studied and well-read women I know. Love shines in her eyes and if I look half as great as her in my 90s, I will be a happy camper!
Also, I have a huge heart for the poor. I don’t want to forget that 20,000 kids die every day of preventable diseases. I created www.reachthepoorthisweek.com so that I could read the story of a real child to my kids every week. I hope more families will join us so that the next generation will have a heart for those stuck in cycles of poverty. One of my close friends is a recovering addict with three kids who is just breaking out of poverty here in the U.S. I need her more than she needs me so I can remember why we must have compassion and fight for justice in our country and around the world.
Everything I write about it seems God allows me to live, test or experience. Sometimes I hate it because it leaves me in a very raw state with flaws and emotions exposed. Most of the time I love it because it keeps the writing real and fresh whether it involves joy or pain. It also keeps me dependent on Jesus as my source of everything.
If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of Abingdon Women's interview with Melissa Spoelstra, check them out on our blog. And if you haven't taken advantage of six weeks of Jeremiah previews, you'll find them on our blog as well.