Cindi McMenamin Answers The Faithful Fifteen
FR: What kind of testimony to your faith are you demonstrating in this book? If you are writing fiction, do you write fiction that is based upon your faith or that has a message for the reader? Is your goal to demonstrate your faith in your writing?
CM: WHEN GOD PURSUES A WOMAN'S HEART is definitely a testimony to my relationship with God … to the times He's been there when I've been hurting, the times He's valiantly come through when I've needed a hero, the times He's instilled hope into my life and the times He's swept me off my feet and shown me that in Him lies irresistible love. I don't feel I can truly be credible as an author if I have not lived out what I'm writing about. So all of my books in a very real sense are testimonies of what God has taught me and what He's continuing to do in my life.
My forthcoming book WHEN WOMEN LONG FOR REST (Publication date: March 1, 2004) is another good example of this. The book is about the ways God has convicted my heart and life in the past couple of years, to slow down and rest in Him rather than to strive and try to be someone or something apart from Him. That book leaves me vulnerable, yet it shows women how very much God can work in their own lives as well to bring us to a place of peace and rest in Him.
FR: When did you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus? Where are you today in your walk? Is your faith an important part of what you do?
CM: I grew up in the knowledge of Christ and asked Christ into my life at the age of 4. But as I grew older and understood more of what commitment to Christ meant, I rededicated my life to Him several times. When I was 19 and my parents divorced and left my home church, it was then that I had to take a true 'ownership' of my faith, realizing that I am not saved because my parents were or because I was brought up in a "Christian home" or because I had my own church. From that point on I truly understood how my salvation is dependent on my relationship with Jesus alone.
Today, my walk consists of studying His Word and connecting with His heart in prayer (to learn more of what He wants of me in the relationship), obeying Him and serving Him out of my love for Him. My faith is an essential part of all I do, as I believe it is the necessary component of holding a family together, of living in harmony with other believers, of having the courage to share my faith with non-believers and of living out my life's purpose: to encourage, inspire and motivate women to develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Because I am an author and national speaker at women's conferences and retreats, as well as a director of women's ministries in my church and a pastor's wife, my faith is part of my everyday life, as well as my 'career.'
FR: Tell us about your church experiences, how you grew up (or maybe didn't grow up) in the church, where you attend now, your involvement in your local assembly, etc.
CM:I grew up in a Bible-believing "Baptist General Conference" church in a small town in Central California. I credit much of my knowledge of the Bible today to the solid Bible teaching I was exposed to as a child in Sunday school and Bible-memory programs like AWANA and GMG (Girls Meeting God). Yes, there was the 'legalism' here and there as there is in any church, but for the most part I experienced love and acceptance and a group of people who, to this day, still know me by name and truly care about my walk with God. I experienced a 'family' there.
Throughout the years, wherever I've moved, I've been an active part of a body of Christ for the fellowship and accountability that can only come through being a part of a local church. Today, my husband is a pastor on staff at a mid-size church in North San Diego County, California. I am the director of women's ministries and a Sunday morning adult Bible teacher at the church, too. I am also active in a weekly prayer ministry for the church.
FR: Tell us about your current church family/fellowship. How does it influence your work?
CM: Much of what I experienced in my church over the past year and a half is recorded in my upcoming book WHEN WOMEN LONG FOR REST, so I would say that my church family/fellowship has a great influence on my work and ministry. How I grow, what God teaches me, where I fail --- mostly it happens in my day-to-day life with other believers.
Some of the best stories in my books --- including LETTING GOD MEET YOUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS, WHEN GOD PURSUES A WOMAN'S HEART and WHEN WOMEN WALK ALONE --- come from people in my church who have shared with me how God is working in their lives. And some of my most vulnerable moments of God teaching me something or holding me accountable in some way come from my life with other believers in my church as well.
FR: Who are your spiritual mentors? Your professional mentors?
CM: Author Elisabeth Elliot mentored me through her books, which I started reading when I was in high school. Author and Bible Teacher Cynthia Heald mentored me during my early years as a pastor's wife through her Bible studies BECOMING A WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE, BECOMING A WOMAN OF PRAYER and so on. My face-to-face mentoring and discipleship has come from other pastors' wives who have pulled me aside and invested time in my life.
Spiritually, I have learned the most from my pastor-husband and books by classic writers A.W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray and, more recently, Tricia McCary Rhodes. Professionally, I have benefited greatly by sitting and talking with authors Elizabeth George, Cynthia Heald and others who have modeled to me a life of humility, servanthood and grace.
FR: Discuss your calling/mission --- as a writer and as a Christian.
CM: I am called as a writer to encourage, inspire and motivate women to develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I am allowed the privilege to do this through conference and retreat speaking, Bible class teaching and writing Bible studies, magazine articles and books.
FR: What are your Scripture reading habits?
CM: I have adopted a "No Bible, no breakfast" motto. It gives me the discipline I happen to need everyday to be in God's Word at the beginning of the day. I'm not a legalist, just a woman who understands that I'm a mess if I'm not in God's Word daily.
I go through study books, do contemplative reading, journal what I read and apply it through paraphrasing and rewriting it into prayers, do inductive studies of books, and do devotional readings of the Word as well. I have included some of my 'study habits' or 'ways to start a Bible reading plan' in my books WHEN WOMEN WALK ALONE and WHEN WOMEN LONG FOR REST (March 2004).
I have found it helps to read several different translations, so the Word is always exciting, new and able to hit at different places in my heart at different times. My preferred translation for study is the New King James Version. My preferred translation for devotional reading is the New Living Translation, the New International Version, and the Message. I've also picked up the Contemporary English Version and read through that occasionally.
I love studying and reading through the Psalms (because they are filled with such emotions and they are such poetic songs) and the Gospels (because I like to put myself in the picture where Jesus is … for a more personalized look at Scripture and a fuller application).
FR: What books have most influenced your work?
THE INDUCTIVE STUDY BIBLE (NAS)
THE MESSAGE (all volumes) by Eugene Peterson
MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by Oswald Chambers
THE PURSUIT OF GOD, THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD, and THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY, all by A.W. Tozer
ABSOLUTE SURRENDER by Andrew Murray
LET ME BE A WOMAN, A PATH THROUGH SUFFERING, and DISCIPLINE: The Glad Surrender, all by Elisabeth Elliot
WHISPERS OF HIS POWER by Amy Carmichael
EXPERIENCING GOD and CREATED TO BE GOD'S FRIEND, both by Henry Blackaby
IMPROVING YOUR SERVE, INTIMACY WITH THE ALMIGHTY, and LIVING BEYOND THE DAILY GRIND (Volumes 1 and 2), all by Charles Swindoll
BALANCING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Charles Ryrie
FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE by Jim Cymbala
FR: Do you read secular fiction at all? If so, who are your favorite authors and why?
CM: I read very little fiction.
FR: What are your other media habits --- television, movies, music, etc.?
CM: I watch very little television, except for the news. I can't find much worth watching these days. I do enjoy watching certain movies, however, and looking for "Gods story" in them … His story of how He rescues us, how He redeems us. Those elements can be found in any great adventure and love story.
FR: Do you and your family have any special faith-based traditions?
CM: We are just starting to have family advent devotions around Christmas time. We attend candlelight Christmas Eve services every year and Thanksgiving is focused on God's blessings to us over the year.
FR: Tell us about your prayer life and habits.
CM: I pray mostly in the early mornings as a way to start my day. Prayer, for me, consists of worship, praying through the Word, and personal prayer communion with God. The channels are then open for prayer throughout the day, which consists of 'breath prayers' and 'songs of praise' and talking to Him, conversationally, throughout the day.
I keep a prayer journal of what and who to pray for, so I can record answers to prayers and the dates. I also journal many of my prayers as a record of how God has been working in my life over the years.
I meet regularly with people from my church to pray for concerns among our local fellowship and in our personal lives. I pray regularly with the Moms at my daughter's school (a local school chapter of Moms in Touch International).
FR: Describe what you believe the role of writing in religion is.
CM: I'm not sure what this question means. It's rather vague. I think writing is an excellent forum through which people can better understand who God is and how He wants to connect with their lives.
FR: Would you share a story about someone you've brought to Christ or share how your writing has helped someone?
CM: I continue to get letters and emails from women who have drawn closer to the Lord through reading my books, but my favorite 'experience' with a reader was this one. I was speaking at a retreat for a church in the Riverside, CA area and a woman came up to me and identified herself as "Angelique." She said that weeks earlier she had been contemplating suicide because her life as a single, unwed mother of a 12-year old was so difficult, especially in light of the fact that she had just had her heart broken again by another man. On the night she prepared to take her life, through an overdose of medications, she got a knock on the door. It was two women from her church who were involved in a weekly study of my book WHEN WOMEN WALK ALONE. They handed her a copy of the book and said, "We want you to read this book and join us on Thursday nights for the study if you can." She took the book from them, closed the door and out of desperation started to read. She said that by the times she got to the second chapter, she was on her knees in tears repenting of her decision earlier to take her own life and committing her life to God who for some reason knew what He was doing in her life.
She then came to the Bible study the following Thursday night, shared her story and the "God timing" of the girls' visit at her door. The group later took up a collection to give her a scholarship to attend the retreat at which I was speaking, so she could tell me her story herself. Her words to me were, "I had never ever considered the idea that God might have a reason for the pain I've experienced. I have a reason to live now because I want to discover what that reason is and what purpose He has for me." Who would have thought that as I was writing a couple of chapters, God was preparing one desperate woman in Riverside to read words that would cause her to come to Christ and decide to continue living. That is powerful … and so humbling to me to be used in that way.
Back to top.