The author of several devotionals and her latest book, Raising Godly Girls, Deb is a mom, ministry leader, speaker, and women’s Bible study leader at Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Nebraska, where her husband, Cory, serves as pastor. We caught up with Deb to talk about her new book, mothering, and her love of writing.
What encouraged you to write Raising Godly Girls at this time in your life?
This is a transitional time in my life as a parent. I’ve just raised my godly girl; many of our memories are as vivid as though they were made “just yesterday.” At the same time, I’ve been able to reflect upon Courtney’s childhood years with the clarity of hindsight, and she has been able to share openly with me as a young adult, recalling the details, feelings, and faith stories of her growing years. Walking beside other moms whose godly girls are still growing, I’ve been able to glean from them, as well, at this time in their lives.
Did you have a book similar to this when you first became a mom?
Unfortunately, when I first became a mom, I did not possess a Christian resource like this. Thankfully, our church provided an engaging parenting Bible study series for new moms and dads. Like a sponge, I soaked up everything I could and also sought support and guidance through other Christian moms and directly from God’s Word. I endeavored to write the type of resource that I wished I’d had: a grace-filled book for moms, centered on Christ and our identity in Him, full of biblical guidance, practical advice, and relatable stories. Topics include identity, beauty and self-perception, media and peer influence, and purity.
How do you write about something that is so personal (raising your own daughter) in a way that is also relatable to the many different moms who have read or will read your book?
As I share from my heart to the heart of the reader, I relate personal stories and memories in the same way I would if writing a devotion: I share from life experience. A unique story can point to a universal message that may be applicable to every reader, on some level. Often, I hear moms respond, “I can totally relate with that!” They have their own unique stories and situations with their daughters, but the lessons learned or the biblical truths shared are often the same, and I elaborate on the life application of these lessons and truths far beyond the personal stories shared.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
My love for crafting words together began in early elementary school. I created manila-paper glue-bound volumes and began filling the blank pages of these homemade books. Many would-be novels were begun but never finished! Journalism was my first major in college, but I more fully realized my desire to be a writer when I began leading family ministry in 1998, followed by women’s ministry in 2002. Creating curriculum, dramas, devotions, and Bible studies fueled my passion for sharing God’s Word and the love of Christ through creative writing.
What keeps you motivated to continue writing?
As I study the Word of God and prayerfully consider how I may share it with women, I’m motivated to keep writing! When I’m asked to create a new theme for a women’s retreat, I’m encouraged to continue crafting words together! And as I receive inspiring responses from women, I’m moved to continue writing, that Christ would be exalted through my words.
What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect(s) of writing?
The most rewarding aspect of writing comes in trusting the Lord to use my humble words to impact another person for Christ, though I may never know how a piece of my writing is shared or who will learn from it or grow through it. It’s also a wonderful surprise to receive a response from a reader who chooses to share how God is working in her life, as connected to something I’ve written. To Him be all the glory!
If you had to pick three books that are your all-time favorites, which would they be?
Armed & Dangerous: Praying with Boldness by Jane L. Fryar
I learned so much about prayer in this excellent Christian living book, shared in Bible study with other seminary wives during my husband’s years at Concordia Seminary. I’ve referred to it again and again.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
She creates a story set during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, with parallels to the Old Testament prophet Hosea powerfully conveying the truth that we are never beyond the reaches of God’s grace and the redemption that’s ours in Christ Jesus.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I delighted in this and all the Chronicles of Narnia with my children. I especially loved the allegory to Christ in this children’s novel!
What piece of advice have you received that’s been most beneficial in your writing career?
The advice that’s been most beneficial to me, as shared by instructors of various writing classes is write what you know. It’s what matters to you. It’s what you’ve lived, experienced, and learned. Share it. Also, keep your audience ever-present in your mind as you write for them. Dr. Jane Fryar advised that good devotional writing is Christ-centered, anchored in Scripture, and relevant to life. Recalling these wise words helps me remain focused on the purpose and direction of my writing, as I pray that the Holy Spirit guides every word.
One more piece of basic writing advice that’s been beneficial to me is this: When staring at a blank screen or sheet of paper, begin with prayer. Ask God, “What truth do You want me to share?” Pray for His lead and specific direction, and ask that He would reveal His truth through the Word as you prepare.
Any new projects in the works?
I’ve begun an expansion of my retreat theme, A Woman of Joy (based on the Book of Philippians), into an eight-session Bible study.
Is there anything else you would like to share about Raising Godly Girls or writing in general?
From Raising Godly Girls: “Your daughter is a princess, the beloved child of the King of kings! She is God’s workmanship. And so are you. You are part of God’s master plan. He chose you to be the mother of a daughter . . . ”
By God’s grace, Raising Godly Girls will encourage moms to lean into God’s strong arms of grace as they influence and prepare their daughters for confident living as godly women in a secular culture.