The problem with promising God you’ll follow Him wherever He leads is that you just might have to go.
I suspect it would be easier if you were certain of His calling—like stepping out the door and seeing the lilac bush on fire and hearing a voice commanding you. But when it’s your husband who is delivering the message—well, that leaves a little room for wonder.At least that’s how I felt when my husband rocked my comfortable middle-class afternoon with his belief God was calling us to pack up and move to a Mayan village in Guatemala.*
We are delighted to share an interview with Marcia Moston, author of Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife.
This book is about laying aside your hopes, dreams, and fears to follow God even though where He’s leading seems to require credentials you lack and courage you don’t think you have. And about discovering just how personal and gracious He is.
Marcia, tell us about yourself.
Although I hold degrees in sociology and Christian education, most of what I’ve learned has been by the proverbial seat of my pants. I’ve taught English in a Christian high school, worked with orphans in a Mayan village, led mission teams toCentral America, delivered Yellowbooks, stuffed vending machines, and lived in everything from tepees to parsonages.
I love to share the stories and lessons I’ve learned along the way about what a very real God can do with the smallest of our offerings. My first and most dear word from the Lord is Be still and know that I am God—Psalm 46:10.
What do you hope readers will glean from your story, Call of a Coward-the God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife?
A fresh confidence in the Living One Who Sees Them. A sense of expectancy in encountering him. Both the story and its path to publication are examples of the possibilities of an ordinary life in the hands of an extraordinary God. I hope readers will be inspired and encouraged that whether they travel a thousand miles or a thousand feet, God can do exceedingly more than they imagine.
How were you personally impacted working on the project?
Recording events and later rewriting them helped me to see just how involved God was (and is!) in my journey. I gained a deeper appreciation of his grace, and then after the manuscript won several contests, including the women of Faith writing contest, I realized it was a message bigger than my personal story.
It was with fear and trembling that I put my name on the same line as Moses’, but the story is not about me or Moses; it’s about the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Your writing experience is unusual in that until 2008, you’d never written anything, but by 2011 you had a book contract with Thomas Nelson. How did that happen?
I am grateful to have experienced such abundant grace and blessing on my work. When we moved to the South a few years ago, I had a singular image in my mind: buy a house with a pool where I could sit and write. Although I didn’t know what I would write, nor did I know how to write a book, it was as though my story’s time had come, and I needed a nesting spot.
I took a writing workshop taught by the editor of the city journal. At the end of the class, she offered me my own weekly column. That’s when I realized I could write something that people would read.
I continued to take workshops and go to conferences. In 2010, my manuscript won at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference. I also won a self-publishing package, but turned it down because I felt constrained to wait.
Later in the year, I entered the Women of Faith Writing Contest and won a self- publishing package from WestBow Press. Unbeknownst to me, Thomas Nelson was looking at my book, and a month after it came out, offered me a contract.
Many traditional publishers avoid memoir. Do you have any advice for someone who hopes to publish a memoir?
The first agent I approached told me no one would publish a memoir from an unknown. He suggested I turn my story into magazine articles. Although I didn’t do it at the time, I think his advice is good. Memoirists need the exposure magazines give.
My path to publication, however, was through contests. I also made sure my story was about something more than me. Thomas Nelson must have agreed because they categorized my book as Christian living/spirituality
What advice have you found helpful to you as a writer?
To do my part—learn the craft, be open for critique, write with guts, and then rest in Flannery O’Connor’s advice: “When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God’s business.”
What or who has influenced you?
I’m sure influences from thousands of books are floating around my brain, but most recently, I’ve been inspired by the imagery and metaphors of the Bible, the essays of E.B. White and Annie Dillard, and the stories of Rick Bragg—people who capture the extraordinary in the ordinary.
How did you know you should become an author?
Unlike my fiction writing friends, I never had voices carrying on in my head (at least not the kind you talk about) or flashes of the perfect plot. But threading throughout all the other things I wanted to do in life (astronomer, archeologist, doctor) was the idea that someday I’d write a book. Of course, as Sholem Asch so succinctly points out: “Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.” A few years ago I realized I did.
Do you have a writing schedule?
I’m a bad example here. Wisdom leans on the side of schedules and quotas, and not on the side of sporadic, task-driven efforts, which I seem to favor. I’d rather pull rusty nails out of old decking than sit in a chair all day, but if I have a specific project that has the possibility of a future, like writing an essay for the Writer’s Digest competition, or better yet—writing a second book because my first did well enough to warrant one—then I’ll sit, and write, and squirm until I’ve got something. I always need the first line of every section before I can go on. (It may change, but I have to have a satisfactory one at first.)
Are you working on a second book?
Yes. My working title is Going South-the God of my Mistakes. When we moved south, we didn’t expect our plans to go south too—but it’s really a story of hope.
*Permission link: Excerpted from Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle Class House-Wife. Thomas Nelson ©2012. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc. www.thomasnelson.com.
Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife is available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book Distributors or from your neighborhood bookstore. Be sure to leave a comment below for your chance to win a FREE copy!
Marcia Moston is the award-winning author of Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife. As head of missions while her husband was pastor of a Vermont church, Marcia led mission teams to various countries in Central America. She holds degrees from the University of Vermont, and Trinity Theological Seminary. She loves learning and has often done it the hard way. Marcia and her husband are Yankee transplants currently enjoying sunny South Carolina. Visit Marcia at http://marciamoston.com.