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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Teen Week Interview with Rebecca Powell





Today we have Rebecca Powell joining us (shown above with her daughter and co-author, Danya). She is a dynamic speaker, a homeschooling mama and a prolific writer, with three books to her credit and a regular column for Parent Life magazine. Rebecca was one of my contributors to For The Write Reason and has been a great source of information and encouragement in my writing journey, so I am especially tickled to introduce you all to her!
Tell us a bit about yourself, Rebecca!

First and foremost, I’m a child of God. I was brought up in a Christian home and came to Christ at an early age. My identity rests in Him!
By His grace, I am a wife and a mom--so in telling you about myself, I have to tell you about my wonderful family! My husband Rich and I were college sweethearts, and we’ve been married for 19 years. He’s a bi-vocational missions pastor, working in outreach and teaching ministries at our church, but his day job is running a vending company with his dad. Rich is the greatest! God so blessed me with that man! We have three incredible children: Danya (15), David (13), and Derek (10). I’ve been a homeschooling mom since Danya was four.
I am a writer through and through! My heart flutters at the sight of a blank piece of paper. :) I began writing professionally in 2000, when Baby Boot Camp (a book of devotionals for new moms) was published. I’ve been a monthly columnist for ParentLife magazine since ’02, and I’ve written three Bible studies for teens, Wise Up! and Get Real! for girls and Dig Deep for guys. I speak, as well, like many authors, and now that my daughter is pursuing a music career, she and I often team up for girls’ conferences and women’s events. Also, something new that I started this fall has been really exciting—I’m teaching a writing class to homeschooled high school students and having a blast!

What prompted you to write for teen girls?
When my daughter was going into sixth grade, getting ready to begin that transition from child to young woman, I searched for a resource that would help her make that leap while keeping her feet firmly planted in the Word of God. I couldn’t find anything that fit her. Some of the resources highly touted by the homeschool community seemed too archaic for my taste, while some of today’s best-selling Christian resources seemed to dance around the Truth. I felt a bit like Goldilocks, searching for something that was just right! I wanted something that would shoot straight—no holds barred—about life, choices, and growing up, but maintain a Christian worldview and Christ-centered perspective. Although we homeschool, we serve in an inner city church. My children are not sheltered from the hard truths of life without Christ, and there is no way to sugar-coat the issues we often deal with. I needed something I just didn’t feel was available, so God led me to write it!

Why did you choose the Bible study format for your books?
It is absolutely crucial that we motivate our daughters (and sons) to study God’s Word on a daily basis, not because they have to, but because they want to. Its impact on our kids cannot be discounted. If, as parents, we truly believe that Scripture is: God-breathed, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, and able to equip us for every good work (see 2 Timothy 3:16), if we say that it holds the key to every real success in life, then it should be something that we give our lives to, and that we lead our kids to give their lives to, as well.
Think of it this way: We can spoon feed our babies only for a limited time. Eventually, as they start grabbing things off our plate, we teach them how to eat on their own. We get them their own plate, with smaller portions of the same things we’re eating. We teach them how to chew! Remember that? As a new mom, I had no idea that my baby wouldn’t chew instinctively! I had to teach her everything, and she learned best by watching me. The same is true in mapping out our child’s relationship with God. We spoon feed, diligently teaching them the Scriptures through stories and memory verses. It’s important, too, that they see us reading the Bible and that they “catch” us stealing away for some quiet time in God’s Word. One day we realize they are grabbing things off our plate, asking for more of what we’ve got! So we get them their own plate: a Bible of their own, a study book, or a concordance, and eventually, they are feeding themselves. And now, with my teenagers, I find they are moving into new roles, often serving me spiritually, as I glean so much from what they’re learning in their relationships with God. I quite often “snatch” off my teens’ plates! But we all have to be in His Word, on daily basis. A Bible study format offers teens a chance to get into the Scriptures independently, seeking out God’s truths for themselves; it’s just giving them their own plates! :)

What made you do a sequel to your first Bible study?
That was the plan all the time! When I started this a few years ago, I wanted to do a series of four nine-week Bible studies for teen girls (enough to carry a teen through an entire school year). But after Wise Up! was released, mothers everywhere were asking me why I didn’t have anything for boys! So I “detoured” from my plan long enough to write Dig Deep for the guys. My older son was coming of age anyway, and I wanted him to have something, too!

What has the response been so far?
Girls love Wise Up! I get emails from teens who tell me they have heard from God like never before! Of course, that has nothing to do with me! It’s simply because they are studying His Word like never before! Get Real! was just released in August, but so far, girls are enjoying going even deeper into their study of His Word. Get Real! certainly evolved into what I prayed it would be throughout the writing process: the next step for girls who have completed Wise Up! It asks a little more of them, takes them a little deeper, and asks for more of a prayer commitment. If an older high school teen is looking for something and she is past the 6th-9th age range for Wise Up!, Get Real! is a perfect study for her. My daughter is a contributing author to Get Real!, and it was so much fun working with her! She has a heart for her generation, and that clearly shows through her writing. The girls we met at conferences over the summer loved the fact that Danya had a part in Get Real! One thing the Lord has shown me over and over is that there is a hunger for Him and His Word, and He is making Himself known to today’s teens. As for the boys, I don’t often get emails from them, LOL! but I hear from moms who tell me that their boys have loved the book!

How did your experience as a mom and a teen play into the writing? Did you have to silence that "mom" voice so you could write to the teens?
Does the mom voice ever turn off? LOL! Once that switch is flipped, I don’t know if it ever gets unflipped! You know, Marybeth, I had such a hard time through my middle school and teen years, and those are the experiences that flow out as I write. When I’m writing or speaking to teens, I don’t think I come from a “mom” perspective at all. I write from the heart of a hurt teen who feels like she is the only one who doesn’t have it all together—the only one feeling ugly, awkward, and left out. At the same time, I offer a voice of hope as one who made it through those years! There’s no doubt that I am a 40-year-old mom, and if a teen needs mothering (and many do), I’m available. :) But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the mom voice—if it is kind, compassionate, and really cares about the kids! I had a great relationship with my mom when I was growing up, and I pursue great relationships with my kids. I’ve been looking forward to these teen years, and so far, I’ve not been disappointed! I think my love for that age group comes through, and I pray that most of all, God’s love for them shines through what I write and wraps them from head to toe, like silver ribbons of His grace! I shoot straight with the teens God allows me to minister to, but always with love. I was there!!!! And I will never forget those days.

What do you hope teens take away from your books?
Oh, that’s an easy one! I hope they use my Bible studies as a springboard to establish and maintain a daily time spent focused on God, His Word, and conversation with Him. It is essential for life!

How do you balance family life, writing, speaking and homeschooling?
The truest part of finding balance for me is in my daily quiet time. It is a discipline and a priority that is re-evaluated every morning when my alarm clock goes off and I weigh the consequences of meeting with my Lord or hitting the snooze button. :) One of my favorite verses is from Ephesians 5:14—“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” That time spent with God each morning is the beginning of a conversation that lasts all day. I couldn’t live without it. I generally get up quite early to be sure that my quiet time happens.
After that, we have a definite schedule and rhythm to our day. I’ve been homeschooling for 11 years, and I learned early on that I wasn’t going to be able to do it flying by the seat of my pants! We get started with school between 8:30 and 9:00 and are usually finished by 1pm. I’ve learned that even if we have to eat a late lunch, it’s best to keep going until our work is finished for the day. After lunch, the kids work on the things they love: music, sports, and other hobbies. I usually write in the afternoons.
Writing and speaking, for me, is worked in around family life and homeschooling. It’s not the other way around. My family comes first, homeschooling is what we do around here each day, and writing is accomplished around that. For example, Get Real! was written mostly during our Christmas break last year. I usually write my columns on the weekends, squeezed in around ballgames. Speaking and traveling is where I draw the line most tightly. I accept only around six to eight traveling speaking dates a year. That is enough for me during this season of my life. So I guess there really isn’t a balance—the scale tips heavily on the side of my family! Perhaps when they are grown and gone, it will start tipping the other way!
But finding balance and keeping it is never easy. I had a really difficult time with balance during the months of August and September, and it was simply because I had just overbooked myself. There was way too much going on in my life with a couple of speaking dates that were scheduled two weeks in a row, several articles due with ParentLife, and getting school started with my kids and my new writing class. It was way too stressful, too busy, just too full. I knew my speaking schedule was going to be tricky, but I didn’t have to accept those extra writing assignments—I just find them so hard to resist! :) Anyway, I managed to live through it, by the grace of God, and hopefully, it won’t happen again!
(To hear more about Rebecca's writing journey, please visit her website at

www.rebeccapowell.com/writingstory.html)

What advice would you give a teen who desires to write?
Start now. Keep journals. Blog. Read the classics. And pay attention to your English teacher! You have got to have the fundamentals down in order for your writing to be readable and taken seriously.

Thanks so much Rebecca for dropping by! I loved hearing your heart for teens and am so grateful you took the time to produce these valuable resources for girls. My daughter is using Wise Up! right now for her quiet time and is really enjoying it. She will move right into Get Real! after she wraps up that one. To learn more about purchasing these resources for your daughter, go to http://www.rebeccapowell.com/. She even has a special welcome just for you guys! Also, be sure to check out her YouTube clip of her speaking on modesty-- too funny, but also too true!
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2 comments:

Sisterlisa said...

Thank you for interviewing Dana's mom. I have Dana on Myspace list of friends. I look forward to seeing her serve the Savior in her music.

I too need to schedule my writing time. Some days it's in the morning and some days late at night. last night my 8 yr old found an old journal of mine nd asked if she could have it. As I thumbed through it I found so many illustrations on how God had spoken to me during those years. More material to write about!!

Nancy said...

My daughter and I absolutely love Rebecca Powell and her daughter!!! We were blessed to be able to go to her Girl of Worth conference in August here in KY. It was such a blessing and lots of fun too. We're excited about her next conference on March 7,8 in Evansville, IN. It is on Integrity. Rebecca truly exudes God's love and grace!

Nancy