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Q&A with Cindy Steinbeck

The Rock Speaks is a new Bible study based on 1 Corinthians 10:4: “All drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” We caught up with author Cindy Steinbeck to learn more about The Rock Speaks and her writing.

  How did you get started writing?

My writing career began in 2008 when I launched my blog VOICE. During my early morning quiet time, I’d choose a theme and Scripture verses. As I meditated, I put my thoughts and heart into words, about five hundred words each day. The themes varied widely, but they often centered in my vineyard experiences. I’d hit send. The response of readers was overwhelming as my words seemed to touch the journey many were on. The blog grew in membership and gave me an opportunity to share God’s Word as well as practice my writing skills on a daily basis. My editor at Concordia Publishing House subscribed to my blog and over time built a relationship with me, which led to my first contract with CPH.

 What authors do you like to read?

  Early in my career as a director of Christian education, I enjoyed reading Luther, Walther, and Franzmann so much that I enrolled in Concordia University Irvine’s Master of Arts in Reformation History and Theology program. Today, I pick up theological works as I study the Scriptures. I also enjoy the works of Brené Brown, Paulo Coelho, Lundy Bancroft, and Susan Forward.

 The Rock Speaks is your third book published with CPH. Has anything changed with your approach to writing?

  My work has changed dramatically from writing The Vine Speaks to writing my third book, The Rock Speaks. During the process of writing The Vine Speaks, I set aside one full day per week. I’d hide away in my tasting room and ask that no one disturb me. It was a beautiful process of meditation, prayer, and writing about my vineyard and the Vine. Writing The Rock Speaks was a daily process, much like writing my blog in the early days. I’d wake up early each day and spend an hour meditating and writing.

Thanks to the opportunities given to me by Concordia Publishing House as well as the great reception by my readers, I’ve become more free and confident to share my thoughts and heart. My faith has grown through the journey of writing three books, and my work has become more fluid.

 What can readers expect with The Rock Speaks?

Readers will learn a lot about my passion for the soil and living off the land. They’ll learn what Ive learned from rocks. I grew up playing in the mud and building rock forts. I love hiking, skipping rocks, and collecting rocks. My home is decorated with rocks. I grow my own food in the soil. Our lives are sustained by the soil; our lives will return to the ground. Therein lies the tremendous tension—our bodies return to the ground, and our bodies will rise again!

The apostle Paul declared Christ the Rock, who followed the children of Israel in the desert (1 Corinthians 10:4). Christ, the Word of God, Creator of the earth, was called “the Rock” by Paul. Paul’s words have been on my heart for many years as I’ve lived on and worked the land, which led to CPH listening to my ideas and contracting The Rock Speaks. In the opening section of each of the ten chapters, I tell stories and bring the reader’s attention to various types of “rock”—dust, sand, soil, stone, cornerstones, rocks, hills, mountains, and the earth.

The Bible study portion of each chapter focuses on Scripture verses tied to a particular type of “rock.” Here is one example from the first chapter. Dust is an annoyance in our homes, businesses, and cars, yet God created dust and worked through dust. God still works through dust to bring us to an awareness of His Word and work in our lives.

God created Adam from the dust; a part of Adam’s punishment for disobedience was that he returned to the dust. We also, as part of Adam’s punishment, will return to the dust. I pose the challenging question, “What does God’s Word teach me now, today, before I return to the dust?” After posing the question, I encourage readers to process their thoughts about dying and death within the framework of the promises of God in Christ, our Rock. Courage, strength, and hope are the gifts from the Word of God found throughout my work.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

I enjoy the study, meditation, and prayer I engage in as I travel the journey of each writing project. I also enjoy watching my work unfold from my heart and ideas to brainstorm lists and outlines. The chapter work requires a lot of patience as the process evolves into a book. I really enjoy the personal aspect of growing with the process of each book. Completing the work is bittersweet because I love the process.

Tell us about your career outside of writing. How has this influenced your work?

My family and I own a vineyard in California. We work with grapevines in the soil. We watch seasons and growing. This rich context provides a springboard for the imagery in the Scriptures to come alive. Each day, the vineyard changes; no year is exactly the same as the year before. Health and growing, important concepts for life in Christ, are the goals in the vineyard as well. Bearing fruit is our ultimate goal, but fruitfulness is not limited to the fruit clusters we pick from the vine. For example, fruitfulness of the vine comes through healing from the wounds made by grafting, pruning, and thinning.

Farming the grapes—whether driving a tractor over the fields or irrigating or pruning or hoeing weeds—gave me an inside look at the life cycle of the vine. I got to know the fields and how the roots grow deep into the soil. My passion grew deeper with every year I worked the vineyards.

I launched two businesses in the twenty years I’ve worked with my family. The first was educational vineyard tours, and the second was a wine brand and tasting room. Our educational tours are an extension of my youth ministry and teaching days. I started our wine brand as one more way to showcase our seven-generation history and tell our stories. We offer great wines coupled with offering guests a look into the past while being part of our future. Storytelling is a big part of my work as we draw our guests into our history, our present, and our future.

When I retired from full-time youth ministry to work in our family’s vineyard business, I lamented “quitting the ministry.” I learned a lot about myself as I farmed—I love the Word of God, I love people, and I love sharing my heart for Jesus with the world. Writing has afforded me an opportunity to integrate my former work with my current work. In addition to writing, I lead Jeep tours teaching the Scriptures in the vineyard. I’ve also started offering retreats in the vineyard. I’m honored to be asked to speak at conferences, conventions, and retreats using the vineyard and rock themes.

Do you have any new writing projects in the works?

I have ideas for another project, again relating to my passion for the Scriptures, sharing my faith, and my work in the vineyards on this great earth. Nothing is formalized at this time, but I look forward to working with CPH in the future.

 

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