Latest project:Couples of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Couples in Scripture (978-0-310-33268-8, $22.99, Zondervan).
How did this devotional come about?
Bobbie: This really came out of a felt need with the girls in my Bible study. I teach 30 young moms at my church. … I had been for years listening to what they struggle with—moving, jobs, disobedient children, infertility, surprises, illnesses, circumstances that are beyond your control—and so I felt like zeroing in on God’s Word, and let’s find out what God’s character was, how did He act, how did He instruct couples in the Bible, both the good and the bad, and the thread of His redemption all the way through.
Robert: It’s the third in a series. The first was Women of the Bible, Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda, and we had the privilege of representing them. Our day job is representing authors. Then Ann and I did Men of the Bible and so the third of the trilogy really would be Couples of the Bible.
What is the structure of the book?
Robert: It’s a 52-week experience for couples. Monday is called “Their Story,” and what we do is we take an event in the life of one of these couples. Now it’s actually 40 different couples, 52 weeks. There are some couples that we’ve spent more than one week with because they deserve more time … but Monday is “Their Story,” so we’ve taken a slice from their account in the Bible. Tuesday is called “Their Life and Times.” We had the joy of having a Jewish Christian researcher who dug deep, who helped us come up with accurate data about the life and times of these couples so we’re saying, OK, what was the culture like, what was it like politically, what was it like geographically? Then Wednesday is called “Can You Imagine?” so we’re inviting the reader or the readers to go into that cultural setting, into that relational challenge, then Thursday, we called it “Their Legacy in Scripture,” so the big idea, the issue the couple’s facing, whatever it is, we’ve given the reader a chance to have a Bible study on that subject, so it’s three or four Bible passages and questions that take the reader through the Scripture, back to the story of the couple in terms of the issues that they faced, and then Friday is called “Their Legacy of Prayer.” So now that you’ve spent the week with this couple, how are you best drawn into God’s presence? In fact, it’s interesting because there’s a section in that Legacy of Prayer of listening, so, like Jesus Calling, it’s written in the first person as though God is speaking to the couple.
Did you plan the timing of the release of this devotional?
Bobbie: Just at the point of doing some of the final edits, February of 2012, I went in for surgery thinking it was just routine surgery and came out with the diagnosis of stage four ovarian cancer. So between the hospital visits and the six rounds of chemotherapy, I just could hardly think. I could walk a little bit and I was cared for very well by Robert, but I had a hard time editing, so we asked the publisher if we could have an extension.
Robert: Bobbie had six treatments separated by three weeks. The first week, post-treatment can be a rough week, but you get better and better and better, so we captured Bobbie as well as we could the second and third weeks following treatments to do the editing ... so it stretched it out. From a marketing perspective, most devotionals come out in the fall, so it’s sort of cool to come out in April, and Mother’s Day is the second busiest time at retail, so we think this is a pretty cool Mother’s Day gift. We also think it would be a great wedding gift, and the wedding season starts May and June.