Coffee Talk with Barbie Swihart (Author of Coffee Talk with Jesus)

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Welcome, fellow bloggers, readers, writers and friends! Grab your coffee, tea or cocoa and curl up close and comfy. Today we are going to have a converstion with my dear blog sister, Barbie. First if you don’t know Barbie, let me tell you how I came to know her, as she has become near and dear to my heart. Although, I think if you ask just about anyone in the Blogosphere, they’d say the same thing! Barbie is kind of a Wonder Woman  in the blogging world. Yes you are, Barbie! She’s blushing, right now, I’m telling you. Barbie encourages others as easy as breathing, with a heart and a smile that are both bright and beautiful, she’s the kind of friend who makes you want to linger over your coffee and stay awhile. I got to know Barbie, first through the mutual blogging communities we shared and then while she was serving as Managing Editor over at 5 Minutes for Faith. She greatly encouraged and guided me as needed when I began guest posting and eventually contribuing there. Barbie loves Jesus and her fellow sisters in the blogosphere and regularly reaches out to encourage, pray and support each one in a personal way. Sit back, relax and say hello to Barbie…

Tell us about your family, (hubby, children, pets).
I live in Northern California with my husband and three children (Son-19, Daughter-13, Son-10). I also have a daughter who married about 18 months ago (22). Thankfully she lives close by! I work full time supporting the lead pastor of the church that my husband and I helped to plant over 17 years ago. We are now a house of prayer. No only do I work there but I praying, sing, paint and direct our 4-6 preschool classroom. My children all serve the Lord with their musical and vocal talent as singers, musicians and worship leaders. My husband is a contractor. From 2009-2012 he was basically unemployed. We had a very rough time, had to give up many of the things we owned and loved (our home, cars, etc), but through it all, God has truly taught us to lean on Him and to trust. I currently homeschool my 8th grade girl, although we have made a decision to put her back in public school next fall. (More on that later.) Our 10yo boy attends public school. We have a long-haired Chihuahua, Anna-belle, whom I adore.

What does a general day in Barbie’s life look like?
Crazy! Thankfully, I am off on Mondays. But ever other week day, it goes something like this: I normally get up around 7:00AM, get my kiddos up and ready for school, get breakfast and help my son to make sure he has all of his required things for school. I drop my son off and then, most days, my daughter and adult son head to the house of prayer. (When my son and daughter are not there, they are involved in various activities.) A normal workday for me is 9:00A to 5:00PM. Then it’s home to help my husband get dinner, help with homework, do my own household chores, and I also spend a couple of hours a night blogging, commenting on blogs and engaging in social media. I also am involved in prayer and worship team ministry at the house of prayer at least 2 nights a week. See, I told you my life was crazy!

You work and Home school? Tell us how that is possible?
As I said above, we are putting my 8th grade girl back in school. Homeschooling for us has been difficult. I have successfully put two children through public school, but I felt my daughter needed a little more grounding, and I wanted to use this time to draw us closer together. Well, it has been hard. Not having the time to effectively teach her, or build relationships, has been hard. She has also been very resistant to homeschooling and we’ve pretty much butted heads for the last two years. Our decision to put her back in school has come after much prayer and counseling with our daughter, and we feel she will thrive there. However, our 10yo son has told us he wants to be homeschooled, so in two years we will be back homeschooling a middle school child. Homeschooling while working full time is possible! I wrote a guest post on the subject here.

What are the three best tips you can give moms who are trying to balance multiple roles (ie. work, marriage, parent, ministry, and other endeavors) ?
My advice to any mom juggling multiple roles is to “rest”, “pray” and “find joy”. Rest is something that I do not do well. I like to keep busy. But the busier I have become, I find it is absolutely necessary to allow my body, mind and spirit to stop, to be still and to lean into the presence of the Lord. Communication with God is another must for me. I find that I will miss a day, then two, then three and before you know it, I am running around frantically trying to live my life and I have left God somewhere behind me. Staying in constant relationship with God through prayer has helped me to be able to manage all that He has called me to do. Finding joy in the midst of the mundane is something that I strive for. Life can become a rut, the same ole same ole each day. But God has given us moments of joy, nestled underneath piles of dirty laundry and in between dirty dishes. We simply have to seek it out and then make a choice to open our eyes wide and see the blessings amidst the chaos.

How long have you been blogging and what prompted you to start?
This coming July, I will celebrate my 6th blogging anniversary! Wow, I can hardly believe it. I started my blog at the encouragement of my pastor, who had recently started his own blog. I have always loved to write and thought I could use my writing as an on line journal to remind myself of what God has taught me throughout my journey. But blogging has become so much more! There is a community of like-minded women who truly love and encourage you in this journey.

Is there any one author/writer or writing that has influenced your own writing style, and voice most?
I never struggled too much in the beginning with finding my own voice. I followed a lot of devotional bloggers at the time and always loved that they would share the Word of God from their own reality. I have always tried to stay true to my own voice. The writers who encourage and influence me the most are the ones who share openly and honestly about their own lives, with simple words and biblical truth.

Congratulations on publishing your first book, Coffee Talk with Jesus– Intimate Chats with the Savior! You self published, can you tell us the pros and cons based on your experience so far?
Every year in October the Nester hosts “31 Days of Writing”. Hundreds of bloggers pick a topic and commit to write on that topic for 31 days. In 2012, as I was seeking the Lord for a topic, I remember one morning having my coffee while reading the Word. I was reminded of how very intimate the Lord is, and how, if He could, would love to sit down with us to share coffee and His heart towards us, face-to-face. So that’s how my series was born. I was amazed at the feedback I received on every post that I wrote. After the series was done, I never felt I was finished. I began seeking the Lord for the next step in my writing and felt like He wanted me to write a book. As I prayed and waited on Him for content, He clearly spoke to me to “put into their hands that which I have already given to them.” And thus, Coffee Talk With Jesus, the book, became a reality.

I never thought about pitching my book to a publishing company. I still struggle with comparison, and I knew that by self-publishing I would avoid the fear of not measuring up. I also had to weigh the cost of publication vs. that of self-publishing and knew my pocket book couldn’t handle too much. I think self-publishing is a great way to get your product and your voice out. The cost was minimal and the return has been surprisingly good. As a self-published author, I am solely responsible for getting the word about my book out. There is no publisher pitching the book for me. I’ve had some amazing bloggers assist me in my efforts to gain exposure and the whole experience has been very rewarding.

What was the most significant thing you learned in the publishing process?
The most significant thing I learned was that, even though I had content for the book already, the editing process was both emotionally draining and exhilarating at the same time. I poured myself into this work, both when I originally wrote it for the blog series, and in the editing for the book. I wrote, and rewrote and it got a little crazy at times. Yet I knew God’s hand was on it and that He was with me every step of the way.

Was there any one thing that surprised you or that you wish you had known before that you’d like to share with us?
I think the thing that surprised me the most was the response to the book. I was completely overwhelmed by the emails and comments I had received by those reading the book, how it was touching their lives and how God was using it to draw them closer to Him. The one thing I wish I had known before was that the time it would take from start to finish. Not that it took an incredibly long time, but if I had it to do over again, I would have had the book completed and sent out for review before it was actually published. My review team didn’t have time to wait for the physical book and graciously agreed to read the PDF copy. Next time, I will make sure the books are done and sent out at least two months prior to launch date. Did I just say next time?

Yes, Barbie! Yes, you did and we look forward to seeing where God will lead you next.

What is your best piece of advice for the new blogger?
The best advice I could give a new blogger is to (1) be yourself and (2) get to know your readers. God has gifted each of us with a unique voice. And although sometimes you may feel lost in a sea of bigger fish, remember you write first to glorify the Lord and secondly to encourage the hearts of your readers. Be yourself and allow His glory to shine through you. Also, take the time to get to know your readers through responding to comments, visiting their blogs (if they have them) and interacting through social media. So many of my fellow bloggers have become great encouragers, friends and prayer partners in my life. I can’t imagine my life without them!

Same question for the aspiring author?
Just do it! I can’t tell you how many times I tried to talk myself out of writing the book. I would entertain all the negative voices and reasons why I didn’t feel it was good enough. Ultimately, you want God to open the door and give you the peace and grace you need for the journey. And remember why it is you are writing – to bring glory to God and encourage the hearts of others.

What was your biggest obstacle in bringing your book/ dream to fruition?
The biggest obstacle in writing my book was myself. I remember at the beginning I would sit and compare myself with other writers. I didn’t feel my writing was good enough. But then God reminded me that if it was good enough for Him, then it was good enough for others. I had to recheck my heart, why it was I was writing, and who it was I was writing for. I constantly had to push aside the fear of failure and realize that God had given me a voice, one with which to share His heart with the world.

Tell us a bit about your latest creative endeavor, painting?
I am fortunate enough to attend a church that embraces the arts (dance, media, painting, etc.) I never knew that I could create beauty through art. But several years ago I was intrigued after watching others paint during worship. So I attended a class and thus began my journey of prophetic art. I am a seer, which means God will often reveal Himself to me through pictures. I always thought God would give me the ability to put what I saw in my head onto canvas. But really, with no artistic training, it’s very hard. I felt awkward holding a paintbrush, until one day when God gave me permission to put the brush down and use my hands. I like to call it “heavenly fingerpainting”! 90% of my art is done with my hands. I am still amazed that God would allow me to be used in this way to bring Him glory and encourage others.

I actually won a signed copy of Barbie’s book during a giveaway- YAY, me! See My Review of Coffee Talk with Jesus at Goodreads!

Thank you, Barbie for being YOU and for being here today! Feel free to ask Barbie a question or leave a comment! 

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Connect with Barbie by visiting her website My Freshly Brewed Life

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debbie
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 11:08:30

    thanks for the interview! I appreciated the questions and the answers! As someone new to blog writing, but writing most of my life, I found your highlights and sharing very encouraging and helpful. I am finding much joy in my new “Girlfriends in Jesus” within virtual community! Is the book an ebook, or can I buy it? Thanks girls!

    Like

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    • enthusiasticallydawn
      Jan 31, 2014 @ 11:14:07

      Hi Debbie, I did link the Amazon to the title- and it is available in paperback or Kindle, so you can see if the link works! Also if you go to Barbie’s site she has links to purchase there! Thanks for joining us!

      Like

      Reply

  2. Simply Beth
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 11:46:52

    Barbie is a Wonder Woman and one I simply ADORE! Thanks for interviewing her here so I can continue to get to know this lovely lady better. :))

    Like

    Reply

  3. rosanncunningham
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 11:54:22

    Oh, I loved reading this and I just love Barbie. I know very well the insecurities and fears she struggled through in writing her book because I’ve been there myself. One of the reasons I love Barbie so dearly is because she’s real and so relatable. Great interview, Barbie!

    Like

    Reply

  4. Missy
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 09:24:40

    I love me some Barbie!! And I especially appreciate her willingness to speak honestly about her fears and insecurities while writing her book.❤️

    Like

    Reply

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