Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spending Some Time with Denise Loock

Denise K. Loock is a freelance writer, editor, speaker, and Bible study teacher. Denise has taught weekly women’s Bible study at local churches for 14 years. Over the last 8 years, she has developed and taught her own Bible study curriculum: The Life of Joseph, The Life of Moses, The Life of Joshua and the Books of 1 and 2 Samuel. She also developed an adult Sunday school curriculum for a 12-week study on worship.

Denise is the founder of digdeeperdevotions.com, a website devoted to helping Christians dig deeper into the Word of God. Each devotion on the website takes an insightful look at a Scripture passage and provides a practical application. Then readers are given a few ways to dig deeper into a biblical word, person, or topic so that they can improve their Bible study skills.

Denise speaks at women’s retreats and luncheons. She has also developed a one-day seminar designed to help Christians study the Bible on their own. To learn more about “Chew Your Own Food” seminars visit www.digdeeperdevotions.com/digdeeperontheroad and download the brochure.

Denise has a BA degree in Elementary Education and Secondary Education English from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. She has a MA degree in Twentieth Century British Literature from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

Denise taught high school English for seven years, first at Temple Christian School in Detroit, MI, and then at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach, FL.

From 1987-2007, Denise taught freshmen composition and literature at three different colleges: first at Cairn University, then at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, and finally at Somerset Christian College, also in New Jersey.

In addition to her writing and speaking, Denise works as an Associate Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She lives in Waynesville, NC with her husband and two cats. Son Jeff is a sophomore at University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Daughter Kelsey is a freshman at Western Carolina University.

Hello Denise! What inspired you to write Open Your Hymnal:

In the summer of 2008, I sent a hand-made card to Casey, a friend who was battling a fatal disease. On the front I printed the words of one of my favorite songs, I Must Tell Jesus. After Casey received it, she sent me an email and asked me if I had written the beautiful poem.
What poem? I wondered. And then I realized she must have meant the lyrics and that puzzled me. Casey had been a Christian for decades. We had attended the same church for over ten years. The song was in our church hymnal, yet she had never heard it.
I left the computer, walked over to the piano, and picked up a hymnal.  As I thumbed through its pages, I recognized songs from childhood that I hadn’t sung for years. I also discovered hymns I’d never heard and lyrics that were profoundly rich in biblical truth. I looked at the names of the lyricists. Some I knew--Charles Wesley and Fanny Crosby. Others were strangers to me like Samuel Trevor Francis and William Williams. Who were these hymn writers? What had motivated them to proclaim their faith and pass on their insights in songs?

About that time, I started working in the church office. The minister of music asked me if I would put together the rehearsal schedule and devotion that he distributed to the choir each week. I quickly agreed, realizing that God had given me an opportunity to explore the spiritual heritage of church music and to share my discoveries with others. 

Most of the meditations in this collection first appeared in that choir newsletter. I am grateful both to our minister of music and the choir members for their warm, enthusiastic response to my musings. I now open a hymnal with a high regard for the ever-relevant biblical wisdom it contains. May your journey through this book enhance your appreciation for the testimonies of faith and the spiritual truths that shine so brightly on the pages of our hymnals.
What started you on your writing journey?

I’ve always loved words. As a teenager, I started journaling about what I was learning in my daily devotional time with God. When troubles and trials came, I vented in that journal, too, pouring out my frustrations and pain to God. Writing became a powerful means of communicating with God.
I dabbled in writing for many years, but never was published. In 2007 a friend invited me to attend a writer’s conference with her. That sparked my desire to attempt to publish again. I began submitting to devotional magazines and compilation books. I founded Dig Deeper Devotions because I wanted to share with others the joy of digging into God’s Word on their own. Then the devotions I was writing for my church choir inspired Open Your Hymnal.
What kind of books do you read?

I have very eclectic reading tastes: fantasy, classic fiction, biographies, and Christian Living. Here are favorites from several genres: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; So Brave, So Young, So Handsome by Leif Enger; Unbroken by Laura Hildebrand; Knowing God by J.I. Packer; God Never Blinks by Regina Brett
If you could paint or sculpt like a famous artist who would it be and why?

Claude Monet. I love the way he blurs images and catches the light in his paintings. If you stand close, you see the layers of paint, but you can only see the true images if you stand at a distance. That’s the way life is. Don’t stand too close. You won’t see the big picture.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?
 
My 19 year old daughter makes me laugh. She has a very quirky, sarcastic wit. She sees the absurd in the ordinary. My cats also make me laugh. Their personalities as so different. They know how to find comfort and they know how to get what they want. Their curiosity is contagious. I like the way they approach life.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
 
God’s attributes. His character is so multi-faceted. His grace, mercy, love, justice, faithfulness is reflected differently in every person’s life. Every Bible story catches the splendor of His character is a slightly different light. Psalm 145:3 says, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.”

Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?
 
About ten years ago my husband bought me a gorgeous maroon leather recliner—perfectly suited for my 5’2 frame.  In the mornings I sip my coffee and watch the sun rise over the mountains. Then  I grab my Bible, my journal, and my iPad and study God’s Word. That time with God fuels my day.
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

 I don’t like balancing the checkbook because I’m not a numbers person. It rarely gets done. I don’t like talking on the phone. I’m not much of a chit-chatter. So I like to say what needs to be said and move on.
What is a favorite memory from your childhood?

I came from a very conservative Christian home. When I was thirteen or so, I accompanied my parents on a business trip to Las Vegas. My dad decided to take me to see Karen and Richard Carpenter perform so that he could avoid attending a more risqué show that the rest of his business associates were attending.
Of course I loved the show. The only thing I remember about my parents’ reactions were that my dad couldn’t understand why a girl would want to play the drums and my mom couldn’t understand why the girl was wearing pants! 

But that experience showed me a flexible side to my dad that I didn’t know existed. It made me realize how much he loved me even though he didn’t approve of my taste in music.

Give us a little background on your second book.
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas released second volume of hymn-based devotions was released in June 2012: Open Your Hymnal Again. In it are more insights into God's Word, more connections between the Word and hymns, more practical applications. I also see it as a call to worship God for Who He Is--to bask in the light of His glory and magnify His attributes as the hymn writers did.

In it, I focused more on God’s attributes as they are revealed in classic hymns. And I challenge the reader to explore God’s character and His relationship with us in ways they might not have considered.

Here’s a sample devotion:

My Spiritual Recliner

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
    Matthew 11:28

I hesitate to admit it, but sometimes the best part of my day is the moment I plop down in my recliner at night. As my body relaxes into the contours of that chair, I feel the stress of the day unraveling.  My eyes close and I relish the tranquility.

Resting in the recliner doesn’t solve my problems or eliminate my responsibilities.  It does, however, provide an oasis of refreshment that enables me to gain some perspective on my circumstances and my concerns.  As I sit there, I’m reminded of the blessings of a warm home and a full refrigerator. Most importantly, I reflect on the privilege of knowing the one true God who cares about me and can handle whatever difficulties I encounter.
My end-of-the-day recliner rest is a good example of what Jesus promised us in Matthew 11:28. The Greek word translated “rest” refers to temporary inactivity.  For example, it described the rest of soldiers who stopped to eat and sleep in the midst of an arduous march. If the soldiers hadn’t been given this respite, they would’ve eventually collapsed from exhaustion and been unable to fight.

Resting in my recliner each night rejuvenates my physical body and gives me strength to get up again and do what I need to do. Likewise, resting my spirit in the recliner of God’s presence and His promises provides the spiritual strength I need to get up and do the spiritual work God has called me to do—obey His commands and live in a way that brings Him glory.

I wouldn’t derive much pleasure from sitting in my recliner if I kept my back and legs rigid, refusing to trust the support of the chair. Or what if I gripped the arms of the chair tightly as if I were riding a roller coaster?  The chair’s ability to provide rest for me is directly proportionate to my ability to trust it.

Methodist minister John Hart Stockton expressed a similar thought in “Only Trust Him.” An active evangelist, he wrote the hymn as an invitation to those who hadn’t yet accepted Christ as their Savior. However, the lyrics are applicable to Christians too. We need to be reminded that the One who is powerful enough to give us eternal life is also the One who empowers us to live each day as He wants us to live:

Come, every soul by sin oppressed, There’s mercy with the Lord;
And He will surely give you rest By trusting in His word.
Yes, Jesus is the Truth, the Way, That leads you into rest;

Believe in Him without delay, And you are fully blest.


 
Do you take time each day to rest in your spiritual recliner?  To relax in the contours of God’s unchanging character and prop up your aching faith on His promises? If you do, those moments will become the best part of your day.

Rest and Reflect: How did God restore Elijah’s spiritual and physical strength in 2 Kings 19:1-21? How does He restore yours?

Thanks for visiting with us, Denise!
   

Purchase Open Your Hymnal at:
Amazon

Open Your Hymnal Again:
Amazon


Denise Loock is giving away a copy of Open Your HymnalTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.




7 comments:

cjajsmommy said...

Please enter my name in this drawing. I most definitely would love to win this book in order to send it to a man on death row. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

apple blossom said...

love to be entered thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Patsy said...

Would really enjoy this book!

plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

spangldlady said...

love to win. please enter my name. Darlene spangldlady[at]gmail[dot]dom

lgm52 said...

I'd love to have a copy of this book. It sounds so interesting.
lgm52(at)hotmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I love hymns and singing! My favorite thing in the whole world is to hear a child sing worship songs....
hoping to win! Elizabeth N
neadnitromom@aol.com

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Wish you all could win, I really do. Putting your names in the "HAT" now. =)

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