One of the things I love about reading and reviewing books for my blog is not only the great books I get to read, but also the occasional interaction with the authors as well. Over the years as I’ve done this my site has been visited by several authors who have read my thoughts, some have even commented on them or tweeted me, I’ve had one guest post, and then today I get to do my second author interview – which is a real treat! I love to hear about where the books come from, and also learn a little about the author who wrote them because I think it gives us a little window into what someone is trying to say through their work. This week I have the privilege of reviewing the new book Thrive by Lisa Toney (my review will post tomorrow). Today, however, I’m excited to share the interview Lisa agreed to.
TF: Lisa, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! Can you tell us a little about yourself – what do you like to do when you’re not writing books?
LT: I enjoy speaking, preaching, and teaching in many different environments. I love leadership development and finding ways to bring creativity to the church in the forms of creative communication and hands on interaction with the scriptures. I don’t like boring – ever!
I also have three small children (Zoe – 5, Gus – 3, and Pax -1) and one more on the way (due in January). So my husband and I spend most of our free time with our kids. We go to parks, the beach, we take them sailing, play games, and swim a lot!
When I do get some personal “me” time I like to spend time with friends or dabble in urban gardening.
My husband and I are leading a trip to The Holy Land next week, so that is a little escape for us and a lot of fun to bring the Bible to life as we walk where Jesus walked!
TF: As a writer I’m sure you read a lot, so what books have most influenced you?
LT: I love to read a lot of different genres. I love fiction with a clever story line and strong characters. I love to read books on leadership and ministry since that is the area in which I spend most of my time. I also teach classes so am always looking a new books out in the areas of Spiritual Formation, Small Groups, and Christian Discipleship. Some of the books that have influenced me most are:
- The Bible by God
- William Barclay Commentary Series [Daily Study Bible Series]
- Beth Moore’s Bible Studies
- Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby
- Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers
- Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
TF: It does sound like you read lots of different genres! What books are you reading right now?
LT: I tend to read a few books at once and pick up the one that I am most in the mood to read. I just finished The Awakened by Jason Tesar and Ride The Wind by Lucia St Clair Robson
I’m currently reading:
- Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
- Christian Mystics by Ursula King
- The Story with Max Lucado and Randy Frazee
TF: And if you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
LT: Since I wear a few hats as a writer, speaker, and pastor, I currently most admire the work of Christine Caine. I love her passion, her preaching, and her ability to communicate. She hasn’t written a lot, but I probably consider her the most to be my mentor.
Beth Moore also as someone who has written a lot and done an amazing job of helping others study the Bible would be someone else that I admire.
I really love to read anything written or taught by Andy Stanley. I love his wisdom, humor, and insight. I’m currently reading Deep and Wide by him now.
I also enjoy Dave Ramsey and have found his teaching and books to be very helpful.
TF: Let’s talk specifically about your new book that is available. What (or who) inspired you to write Thrive?
LT: Thrive came out of fifteen years of ministry experience. Honestly, I found myself sharing some of the same topics in the book on a regular basis with people who would meet with me in my office or talk with me about struggles in their life. We are all seeking to know how to live life the way God intended and many of us share in common challenges even if the specific situations look a bit different. Thrive was written out a desire to help us all THRIVE in the life that God has given us. Scripture has some very clear guidance on how to do this and my hope was to offer a book that pointed people to this message. God is for us. God wants us to thrive. God has provided us with the resources to thrive. The rest is up to us.
TF: So what was the hardest part of writing the book?
LT: This was my first book, so everything was a learning curve for me. I’m more used to speaking than writing. But I love words and love the way that they can be used to communicate something. It was an adventure for me. Finding the time to be creative and write was probably the biggest challenge amidst a full time ministry job and a full time family with three small children. I’m very thankful for the wonderful team at Abington that I had the privilege to work with. They brought out the best in me and my work.
TF: One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when I’m trying to prepare something (whether its a presentation, lesson, or even training), I always seem to learn more than about it than I could ever communicate. What was the biggest lesson you learned from writing the book?
LT: I learned that I have an amazing community around me to support me. I have a great husband who read and re-read countless manuscripts and a whole lot of family and friends that helped out with initial readings and watching the kids so that I could write.
I also learned that is can be a scary and humbling thing to put yourself out there in something that is published. I have people come up to me and laugh at a story I wrote or connect with something I wrote, and I’m still a little taken off-guard. “Wait, how do you know that about me?” Then I remember I wrote about it in the book!
TF: Writing a book like Thrive obviously took a lot of time, dedication, and study. How has the research for and the writing of the book affected you?
LT: Yes, it has been fun to really wrestle with Proverbs 28:11 which is the theme verse of the book. Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous with thrive like a green leaf. God has given me lots of opportunities to think, talk about, and put into practice this idea of righteousness as right relationships – a right relationship with God and right relationships with others.
Relationships are complicated and none of us have all perfect ones. The Bible keeps encouraging us to live in a way that values relationships and keeps them as a priority in a world that pushes us to live for stuff, success, fame, power, and money.
None of us are identical, so thriving in life looks differently for each one of us. God’s creative genius is staggering when we consider that there are 7 billion people on our planet and we are all different. Yet God’s intent and heart for each of us is that we live life to the full, that we thrive. That is why Jesus came: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.
TF: So what can we expect from you in the future? Any new projects?
LT: Yes, I am working on a book now called Soulsmart. It is a project that I am so excited about as it takes themes found in the book of Proverbs and connects them with the ministry and teaching of Jesus. Jesus is the wisdom of Proverbs lived out. He communicates the heart and intent of Proverbs in a fresh and captivating way. Jesus takes the wisdom described in the Old Testament and shows us how to be soul smart in how we live. I love connecting the Old Testament and the New Testament in the Bible and seeing the continuity. God wrote the best book ever in the Bible and it is filled with endless wisdom and depths of soul care that never get old. Discovering, investing, and practicing these truths is soulsmart.
I want to say thank-you again to Lisa for engaging in the interview over email, especially since I’ve taken the questions and re-ordered them to make it a little more personal and make it sound like a conversation! Check back tomorrow for my review of Lisa’s new book Thrive: Live Like You Matter. For more information about Lisa you can visit her website at http://lisatoney.com/