Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blogging and Faith: An Interview with Casandra Martin

Yesterday, we had a book review for a Bible study book by Casandra Martin called Living Stones.  Ms. Martin was kind enough to do an interview for Helene via email which we are sharing with you today.  We hope you will check our her blog as well.  She has a lot of good information and devotionals to share with us.  ~Melissa
Helene: If you don't mind, could you fill in some biographical data?  For example, how long have you been married, what does your husband do, is your family still nearby...etc.

Casandra: I love to talk about my family! My husband, Ken, and I will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary in December. He is a HUGE blessing in my life and helps me to see Jesus every day. Ken is a network engineer (read 'computer guy') for a telecommunications company that serves off-shore oil rigs and ships at sea. We have three wonderful, amazing children. They are evidence of God's grace in my life. Emily is a cardiac nurse, living in Little Rock, AR. Ryan is a sophomore at Harding University, where he is studying to be a preacher. Jonathan is a junior in high school, still at home, keeping me laughing and learning to see God's hand.
Helene: Why did you start writing?  Do I understand right that the books predate the blog?  If so, what made you decide to begin blogging?

Casandra: My first WOW book was published in 2000. Writing the WOW books grew out of a need I saw among women who hunger to dig deeply into God's Word, but struggle with how to meet Him in the pages of their Bibles. I started blogging in January, 2010 as a way of sharing the amazing truth that God loves us, and how learning to see Him in the ordinary moments makes life extraordinary.

Helene:  What do you get most out of writing? Is writing Bible study books more or less satisfying than blogging?  How has the discipline of writing effected your faith?

Casandra: Great questions! God blesses me in so many ways through the time I spend with Him writing both the WOW books and the blog. Writing is the place where I stand most surrendered and transparent before Him. I am very aware that I cannot write on my own. Writing compels me to stand more deeply in the shadow of the cross and depend more fully on His wisdom and grace.

Writing the WOW books and the blog are satisfying in different ways. The WOW books are platforms for deep study. The blog is a snapshot of where I meet God in my everyday life.

Spending time with God is always transformational, whether you do it in writing, changing diapers, feeding the hungry, or loving your neighbor. God has used the discipline required in writing to draw me closer to His heart, make me more tender to the needs of others, and more thankful for His presence and grace.

Helene: Philosophically, what do you hope to accomplish as you write?

Casandra: To help others look more like Jesus, which is God's deep purpose for our lives.

Helene: Faith changes over time.  How has your faith changed from when you were a teenager?  A young woman?  How have your life experiences, as a writer, teacher, mom, and wife, effected those changes?

Casandra: God's grace has worked mightily in my life. I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home. As a younger woman, I struggled with the idea that I had to be perfect in order to experience God's love. I still struggle, but God has used my being a mom, wife, and writer to teach me that transformation is a process and that in growing more like Jesus, there is immeasurable joy.

Helene:  How do you organize your time?  There is a lot of emphasis in the WOW books on studying multiple days (a great idea).  So tell us more about how you balance your writing, chores, Bible study, prayer, relationships, service, etc.

Casandra: My kids are laughing at this question! I tell them all the time that organization is the key to life. Here are two keys that help me balance all God has put on my plate, even as I am still learning to rely on Him. 1. Understand the value of ten minutes. 2. Be willing to let go of what is good in order to embrace what is best.

Helene:  I am a teacher.  Melissa is a SAHM.  You have been both.  Tell us about how your career choices have intersected with your writing and your faith.

Casandra: God's plans are so much better than my own! The opportunity to teach school unlocked a talent in me that I didn't know I had. In surrendering that to Him, He has taught me how to serve through teaching others how to live in His presence and purpose. Being a mom is the greatest arena for faith building that I know. It helps me see through my Heavenly Father's eyes as I watch our children grow, learn, make mistakes, and accomplish new things. As He has taught me to love my children, I catch a glimpse of His stunning, overwhelming love for me.

Helene: There are things in God's word that are counter-cultural and seemed as hard to hear to their original recipients as they do to us.  For example, Jeremiah's messages, Amos' messages, or some part of the Pauline epistles.  How do you handle these things as a writer?

Casandra: Looking like Jesus will always be counter-cultural. It is often hard to hear, and even harder to put into practice. When dealing with difficult passages, it is important to start with the heart of God Himself. God is always good, holy, loving, wise, and gracious. All of His words, commands, and challenges to surrender reflect His character and are meant to call us deeper into His plan for our lives. Remembering that this is His best for me, even when it is difficult, hard to understand, or against the 'norm,' helps me take a step of faith into His arms.

Helene: What inspired this new book, Living Stones?

Casandra: I want to have a rock-solid, storm-withstanding, joy-filled, Christ-infused faith. But how? How do we open our hearts to God growing that kind of faith in us? God often uses simple things to teach us His powerful truths. While asking that question, I was blessed to visit Israel and walk in the places where Jesus walked. It is a land of stones! The words in 1 Peter 2:4-5 came alive as I realized that Jesus is building Living Stone faith in me in the same way that houses and temples are built out of the rocks and stones of the land.

Helene: As mentioned in the review, I really admire your ability to present Scripture and leading questions together to draw out your readers.  How did you develop this skill?

Casandra: People always learn best when they discover a truth for themselves. It is easy to tell people what they should think. Transformation happens when we learn how to think differently for ourselves. That happens best when we hold up the mirror of Scripture to our hearts and allow the reflection we see there move us to surrender. I would describe myself as a door opener. I open the door into God's presence by helping women open their Bibles and meet Him there. 
We are grateful to Ms. Martin for sharing her life and her advice with us.  You can find her books here at the 21st Century Christian. Just type in her name in the search box.

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