I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down and open up his or her book. Today, I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with Rebecca Stark, author of The Good Portion: God. This book is the second in a new series from Christian Focus (the first was from Keri Folmar). The goal is to promote robust theological study and reflection for women, from women. I encourage you to grab a copy and enjoy this opportunity to grow your understanding of God.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Minnesota and emigrated with my husband to Canada more than 40 years ago. I am a widow now, and live in the mountains of the Yukon, which is the Canadian territory right next to Alaska. It’s a beautiful place in the summer, with long days and perfect weather. It’s beautiful in the winter, too, but the days are short, it can be extremely cold, and eight months of snow on the ground is more than anybody needs.
My four grown children all live close to me, which means my four young grandchildren are nearby, too. This is a blessing I don’t take lightly, and one I know won’t last forever.
When did you first start writing? What do you enjoy about it?
I wrote a lot as a child, but then set writing aside when I finished school and had my children. I took it up again 15 years ago when my husband died. It was a way to process what had happened and fill my suddenly empty days. In 2004 I started a blog as an outlet for my writing, and since then I’ve written almost daily. As I’ve taken on other writing projects, my blog has been neglected, but I still write something somewhere almost every day.
I’ve discovered writing is an excellent way to learn, and this is the reason I keep at it. The things I understand best are the things I’ve struggled to explain in writing.
Is writing ever difficult for you? How so?
Writing is always difficult for me. I fuss over every sentence. I know writers who routinely write a few thousand words a day, but 700 or less is typical for me. Since I’m usually refining my thoughts on a subject as I go, and not simply putting down what I already know, I’m a slow writer.
I find rewriting and editing much easier and more enjoyable than the initial writing phase. Still, editing can be a painstaking process, too. It’s a bit like putting together a large jigsaw puzzle—moving sentences, changing words, adding illustrations—but at least by this point I know the pieces are there, and if I keep plugging away, I’ll have something in the end.
What led you to write The Good Portion: God?
Many years ago, I started writing a series of blog posts on the attributes of God. As I wrote them, I discovered I loved writing and learning about God. Over the years, I’ve re-written those old posts a few times, and also expanded my writing to other areas of doctrine. Along the way, I became eager to share my love of Christian doctrine with other Christian women. When I was asked to write this book on the doctrine of God for The Good Portion series, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to put my experience to good use. I would be doing something I loved for a cause I believed in.
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from your book?
Most of all, I want each reader to catch a glimpse of God’s glory. I pray she sees his beauty as she explores who he is and what he has done. And as she reads, I hope her heart begins to sing his praises.
How has writing this book affected your own life?
I’ve been writing about God and his works for 15 years, but I learned even more about him as I wrote this book. And as my knowledge grew, my love grew deeper, too.
Here are a few quotes from the book:
“Some say the study of God—or theology—can be a hindrance to living faith. Too much head knowledge of God, they argue, can lead to a cold heart before him. This much of their argument is true: there are some who acquire knowledge about God but have no true love for him. But the root of the problem isn’t knowledge. After all, don’t we need to know something about another person before we can truly love them? Could a wife love a husband she knew nothing about? And assuming he’s a man of good character, doesn’t she love him more as she grows to know him better over time? It’s the same with love for God. We must know about him to love him. Knowledge of God isn’t a hindrance to living faith, but the beginning of it. Knowing too much about God isn’t what causes cold hearts, but cold hearts develop when we don’t follow the truths we learn back to the face of the living God.”
“The first step to being satisfied with the gifts God has given us is to acknowledge them. We tend to take his generosity for granted because he is constantly providing for us from his abundance. We may commute to work, for instance, without considering that it is only because our good God is protecting us that we arrive safely. Or we may take a daily shower without acknowledging that God is the one who keeps the water pipes and the water heater working. But neither safe travels nor warm showers are automatic. They are both good gifts from God, gifts that some women won’t receive today. When we remember his kindnesses to us—his big gifts and his small ones—and receive them with thanksgiving, we will be more content with what we have and less envious of his gifts to others.”
Here’s what others are saying about The Good Portion: God:
This is an outstanding and accessible treatment of the attributes of God. I hope it will reach a wide readership and stimulate and interest in exploring the depths of the Christian faith.
—Robert Letham, professor of systematic and historical theology, Union School of Theology, Wales
In this vigorous yet accessible conversation about God, Rebecca Stark seeks to equip women to know their Creator more deeply. Aiming to reveal God in all his glory, this in-depth volume (and series) is a rare find amongst the plethora of publications available for ministry to women. I highly recommend this book as a tool for women-to-women mentoring and group discussion.
—Margaret Köstenberger, associate professor of theology and director of women’s programs, Shepherds Theological Seminary, Cary, North Carolina
We don’t need a feminine doctrine of God, and Rebecca Stark does not give us one. She presents to us the good portion that both men and women so desperately need, a robust introduction into theology that will lead the reader to adore, delight in, and praise God for who he is and what he has done.
—Aimee Byrd, author of Housewife Theologian, Theological Fitness, and No Little Women
If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?
I’d be sitting on my front porch, enjoying the sunshine, reading a good book, and watching the world go by. Or maybe I’d be walking with my grandchildren and the dog to the pond behind my house.
Rebecca Stark lives in Yukon, Canada, near her four grown children and four young grandchildren. She writes regularly at the group blog Out of the Ordinary, and hopes to resume regular posting at her personal blog, Rebecca Writes, soon.