WRITE: Interview, Ava Pennington (One Year Alone with God)
Way back in June, I posted my review of Ava Pennington’s devotional book. At the time, she and I decided to delay her interview until fall. I didn’t intend to wait as long as December, but I want to share her wise insights. And for all you shoppers, her book makes a wonderful Christmas gift!
Ava Pennington is the author of One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God (Revell). She has also co-authored a children’s picture book series, Faith Basics for Kids(Standard Publishing). The first two books in the series, Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today?, were released in January, 2011.
In addition to her books, Ava has published stories in twenty anthologies, including fifteen books in the inspirational Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and four books in the Cup of Comfort series. She has written for periodicals such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine, The Lookout, Evangel, Light & Life, and Haven Ministries’ Anchor devotional.
Before beginning her career as an author, Ava enjoyed a successful career as a Human Resources Director in financial services in New York City. She earned an Adult Bible Studies Certificate from Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL, and an MBA in Executive Management from St. John’s University in NY.
Ava is also a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com
You have contributed to a number of compilation books. How and why did you decide to write a book of devotions?
In addition to contributing to compilations, I also write devotions and magazine articles for the Christian market. One of those projects was a including a thirty-day devotional on the names of God. I enjoyed writing it so much that I didn’t want to stop after thirty!
One Year Alone with God has a unique flavor in its focus on the names of God. Can you tell us how this came about?
I’ve been drawn to the names of God ever since I completedKay Arthur’s Bible study on this topic almost twenty years ago. But I wanted this project to be more than an intellectual survey of God’s names and attributes.I wanted it to be a devotional that intimately touches us and challenges us to apply the revelations of God’s nature and ways to daily life. And I’m honored and humbled to say Kay Arthur has endorsed it.
You have a background in the corporate world. How did you transition into a career as an author?
We relocated from New York to Florida twelve years ago. At that time, I chose not to return to a corporate career. The more I studied God’s Word, the more I wanted to share what I was learning.
I’ve enjoyed the freedom to teach and write as a ministry, but my corporate background gave me the discipline to treat this new chapter of my life as a fulltime job, too.
What do you hope readers gain from One Year Alone with God?
It’s difficult to trust someone you don’t know. Many struggle in their relationship with God because they think they know who He is, but they haven’t taken the time to learn who He says He is. It’s my prayer that readers will learn who God is as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
To help readers apply what they learn, the devotional examines each of 122 names and attributes of God from three perspectives: who God is, who we are in light of who He is, and how this impacts our relationships.
What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?
When I started writing as a serious pursuit, I had a passion to write non-fiction. However, publishing experts advised that I had little chance of being published without a significant platform. I had also developed a children’s picture book series, and was told that the picture book market had closed to all but those who were already published in that genre. I dropped both projects and switched to writing fiction, but my heart wasn’t in it.
Three years later, I heard a keynote speaker at a writers’ conference exhort us to be true to ourselves and write our passion. I realized I’d been listening to everyone except the Holy Spirit’s quiet voice speaking to my heart.
I began the one-year devotional on the names of God and I also revived the children’s project with a co-author. Within a year, both projects were under contract!
Please share with our readers anything else you’d like to answer that I haven’t asked.
Learning the names and attributes of God changed my own life in three specific ways.
First, it’s changedthe way I relate to God by reminding me that our faith is not blind. God has revealed who He is and how He works. We can trust Him because He has proven Himself trustworthy.
Second, it’s changed the way I pray. Whatever the subject of my prayer, there is a name or attribute of God that relates to that area, whether I’m praising God for who He is, thanking Him for what He has done, interceding for others, or asking for myself.
Finally, it has changed the way I teach and share Christ. Knowing who God says He is gives me the confidence and words to share Him with others. It also helps me when others speak of who they think God is, because I now have a starting point to say, “Let’s look at who God says He is.”
It’s my prayer that readers will be able to say One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God changed their lives, too!
Thank you, Ava, for sharing your book and your writing expertise. And by the way, you can connect with both Ava and me this spring at the 25th annual Florida Christian Writers Conference in Leesburg, Florida, where we’ll serve on the faculty. Check it out and join us!