I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down and open up his or her book. Today’s interview with Trillia Newbell is about her new children’s book, God’s Very Good Idea. I can’t say enough how important this book is for both children and adults. We’re all different in some ways, we’re all the same in others, and Trillia’s book does a wonderful job exploring both concepts. Most of all, she faithfully points parents and children alike to our shared greatest need: Jesus. In addition to allowing parents an opportunity to foster needed conversations, this book is fun to read and wonderfully illustrated. I love this book and I’m so thankful she’s written it!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a wife, momma of two, author and speaker, staffer at the ERLC, and lover of all things that involve physical activity.
What led you to write God’s Very Good Idea?
About a year or so ago, I led a children’s Sunday school class on the image of God and racial harmony. It was such a joy for me to watch the kids think through what it meant to be equally created by God to reflect his image, that God created people different and we can enjoy those differences, that Jesus died for all those different people, and that we can be brothers and sisters in Christ. I remember a friend telling me later that afternoon about a conversation she had with her daughter, “Me and Sydney [my daughter] are made in the image of God. We aren’t just friends, we’re sisters!” At that point I knew I wanted to attempt to write something that parents and teachers could use to share this wonderful message.
This is your first children’s book. How was this process different than other writing projects you’ve worked on?
This wasn’t like anything I’ve ever done before. I think I wrote the first draft mostly for adults. Haha! It’s very different (and hard) to write to such a different audience. And I don’t think I’ve ever prayed over and thought about each and every word like I did as I was writing God’s Very Good Idea. While I knew that every word was important in my other books, there’s something uniquely sobering about writing for little hearts and minds. With that said, however, I think this experience will transform the way I write from now on. Careful and thoughtful, slow and prayerful, that should be—and will be now—my experience every time I write.
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from your book?
One of the last pages of the book sums up the central message well. This is God’s very good idea: lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other. God made this very good idea. People ruined it. He rescued it. He will finish it.
How has writing this book affected your own life?
The concepts covered in God’s Very Good Idea (imago dei, the fall, redemption, adoption, and so on) are weighty and deep theologically, we have books upon books about them, and yet, they are also rather simple. The gospel is supposed to be able to be understood by a child. As Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones once said:
We must be careful that we do not modify the gospel to suit various age groups. There is no such thing as a special gospel for the young, a special gospel for the middle-aged, and a special gospel for the aged. There is only one gospel, and we must always be careful not to tamper and tinker with the gospel as a result of recognizing these age distinctions. At the same time, there is a difference in applying this one and only gospel to the different age groups; but it is a difference which has reference only to method and procedure. (Knowing the Times [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1989], 2)
I don’t want to be immature in my knowledge of God, but I also want to strive for childlike faith. Writing this book helped remind me not to over complicate the great things of God. It also reminds me that there are reasons, many reasons, to celebrate and be glad in all God has done.
How did your children respond when they found out you were writing a book for children?
The kids were thrilled when I they found out I was writing a book for kids. It was so fun showing them the cover! I’ve loved getting to share this journey of writing a children’s book with them.
For a little more about the book, take a moment to enjoy the trailer:
Trillia Newbell is the author of God’s Very Good Idea, Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts, Fear and Faith, and United. You can find her at trillianewbell.com and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trillianewbell