Thursday, December 27, 2012

Please Welcome Dianne Neal Matthews

Good morning, Dianne. Can you tell us a little background on your idea to write DESIGNED FOR DEVOTION?

I worked on this project with the title The One Year Bible Journey in mind. When the team at Baker suggested Designed for Devotion as the main title, it took a day or so to grow on me. But the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated its threefold meaning. First, as human beings, were designed to be devoted to our Creator. We are wired to worship—if not God, then something or someone else. Secondly, our Creator designed his Word to reveal Himself and to help us enter into that intimate relationship with him that we naturally long for. And finally, this book is designed to be the readers’ companion as they take a journey that will hopefully increase their devotion to God and his Word.

What started you on your writing journey?
As a little girl, I loved to make up stories and share them. Writing assignments were always my favorite part of school. But as an adult, I didn’t have the confidence or courage to pursue creative writing. It was just something I fantasized about until my mid-forties when I began writing occasional articles for my church’s newsletter. Urged by a friend, I attended a writers’ conference (Write-to-Publish Conference, Chicago area) asking God to show me if writing was His will for me or my own self-centered dream. He answered clearly that week and I’ve never doubted my calling since then.

What do you like most about writing devotions?

Writing devotionals keeps me excited about how fresh and relevant God's Word is. I love finding creative ways to illustrate a Bible verse or spiritual principle, whether using elements of nature, historical events, pop culture trivia, news events, my own personal experiences, or any other source. I love drawing out practical application that demonstrates how relevant the Bible is to our lives today. I also enjoy trying to find a way to end with a statement that helps the content stick in the reader’s mind (especially when I come up with a pun). And feedback from readers motivates me to keep writing devotionals. It's such a blessing when someone tells me that a devotional has spoken to their specific situation, or says that one of my books is a part of their regular quiet time. 

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)

I love reading classic literature by authors like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, George Eliot. I also love J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. As for contemporary authors, two of my favorites are Stephen Lawhead and Frank Delaney (who writes about Ireland). There’s no way I could ever pick out one novel as my favorite, but I’ve always felt that Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most perfect books I ever read. Besides a gripping story line, it gives the reader a dose of history, philosophy, sociology, economics, and more. The story also gives us a picture of unconditional, sacrificial love, reminding readers of the love that Jesus demonstrated toward us.
What is your favorite season of the year? 
That’s an easy one. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the splendor of trees in their fall colors, the crunch of leaves on the ground, the brisk breezes, and the tastes of autumn, like hot spiced apple cider and pumpkin bread. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a farm, but autumn still holds a sense of the summer’s long, hard work being rewarded by the harvest bounty.
What do you like most about the area where you grew up?
It’s funny, but the things I value most about my childhood are things I didn’t always appreciate back then. I grew up way out in the country in west Tennessee, with my family of six working our cotton fields, growing most of our food, and taking care of a few cows. We learned to work hard and appreciate what we had, not expecting things to be handed to us. Plus, I spent any free time entertaining myself, mostly playing in the woods. That allowed my imagination to develop—and boy, did it ever! By today’s standards, I grew up in poverty, but we were rich in our family life and community within our tiny country church. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
I once performed as a rapper—and at church. Almost twenty-five years ago, a few women at my church wrote a VBS curriculum on the subject of heaven. They knew I liked to make word plays and rhymes, so they asked me if I could write a rap to go along with it. I agreed to try as long as someone else would perform it. I ended up teaching the rap to the kids each day with my friend, Carolyn, who was leading the music that week. We dressed in oversized neon t-shirts, sneakers, caps turned sideways, and called ourselves “Rosie and Rita, the Righteous Rappers.” We even performed in front of the parents at the closing program. Our public loved us—except I think I saw my own kids hiding under a pew.
Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you (and why it's special).
When I attended my first writers’ conference in 1999, deep down I expected to be asked to leave when my manuscript was evaluated; instead, the editor wrote positive comments that seemed too good to be true. All that week, Ephesians 3:20-21 kept coming to my mind. The same verse sustained me when I was asked to write two of my one-year devotional books in impossibly short periods of time. And this newest devotional represented the biggest challenge yet—giving an overview of the Bible from beginning to end. Once again I clung to that passage. That’s why I’ve included these verses in the front of each one of my books.
    Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. 
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)
***Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation can be purchased through local bookstores (Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million as well as Christian bookstores) and all online outlets.

 To learn more, please visit or connect with Dianne through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Dianne Neal Matthews is giving away a copy of her devotional, DESIGNED FOR DEVOTION. The giveaway is only available in the U.S.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Joanne Sher said...

Would love to win this one - thanks so much!

apple blossom said...

love to win this devotional thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great companion book to reading the Bible in its entirety in a year. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Patsy said...

Great book to start your day.

Lane Hill House said...

I would like this devotional! Kathleen

spangldlady said...

I would just love to win a new devotional book for the new year. I read my Bible every day and know that spending time with Him is the most important thing but a devotional sort of lends direction to that. Count me in--thanks for the opportunity. Blessings! Darlene

Jo said...

I would love to read this devotional!


  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009 Design expanded and personalized by 2011.

Back to TOP