Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An Interview with Neta Jackson

I hope you enjoy Neta's insightful answers! I know it's brief, but she really is a terrific lady, and her Yada Yada books are simply awesome!!

1.Which Yada Yada sister are you most like? Why?.

I'm most like Jodi . . . and it's amazing how many readers I hear from who say the same thing. It's downright scary! But in one way she's your Average Christian Woman, putting on a good face, but muttering and complaining inside. But I'm encouraged because Jodi grows and matures over the span of the series. Whew!

2. Are the Yada Yada sisters based on real-life relationships or do they represent a combination of personalities from your life?

Some of the characters are inspired by real people. Others represent a combination of personalities. The character and story which comes closest to being a "true story" is Bandana Woman (a.k.a. Becky Wallace)--and the true story is even more amazing!

3. Why do you think so many folks shy away from dealing with groups like the homeless or recovering addicts?

They repulse us. We think it's their fault. We fail to see that "there but for the grace of God go I." But once we truly grasp that God knows that homeless person and that drug addict by name, when we realize that that wreck of a life is a person with a name and a family and a history and a story . . . that they long for love and recognition and value as much as you or I. Often it takes nothing more than the willingness to sit down and talk, really talk, with that homeless person panhandling to suddenly realize that here's a person with wit and intelligence. (Of course, those who are mentally ill present another challenge.)

4. I recently began volunteering with my husband at an in-house drug rehab facility. As heartbreaking as it is at times, based on your experience writing about overcomers, do you have any advise to offer a volunteer like me? Have you had any similar experiences yourself?

I have not worked with drug addicts, though I have known a few and know the insidious power of drugs. I'm sure you know more than I! But I would think, like any challenging relationship, it takes a LOT of prayer, a lot of commitment to hang in there, to express confidence the person can "overcome" even when their own confidence is shaky, a willingness to encourage again and again. BUT also the realization that you can't do it for them. The wisdom when to "let go." They have to want to. Sometimes they have to bottom out before they're willing to do the hard work to change.

5. Why do you think racial and ethnic barriers exist in the church? Any advice on how we can overcome that obstacle?

Most of us white folks are unaware of the "white power" and "white privilege" and subtle "white superiority" that operates in our life without even thinking about it. Most of us aren't raving racists. But prejudices drive us. And there are prejudices among other cultures and groups as well. We ALL love our comfort zones, and other perspectives and ways of doing things make us uncomfortable.
That's why we need to be intentional about stepping outside our comfort zones. Because the sacrifices we think we're making to do so (visiting other churches, inviting a family of another race or culture to dinner, enlarging your circle of friends to include people you don't normally hang with, deliberately moving into a neighborhood that is mixed racially or culturally) will seem small indeed when we discover the RICHNESS and BLESSING that comes with "enlarging our tent."

We also need to take 1 Corinthians 12 seriously, which talks about the different parts of the Body of Christ needing each other. For the most part we may recognize or tolerate or acknowledge that churches or denominations or people or cultures different than our own are, yes, part of the Body of Christ. But do we know how much we NEED them to be whole ourselves? That they have much to teach us? That we have much to mutually share? That we each represent only one part of the Body, and we aren't being effective in our work in the Kingdom of God, because we're each doing our own thing rather than praying, working, worshipping in unity? (Whew, don't get me started! Praise God, there are glimmers of hope . . .)

6. On a lighter note: What's your favorite thing about being a grandparent? Do you get to spend time with your grandchildren?

Favorite thing? We get to love them, spoil them, and then send them home! :-)

Two of our young grandchildren live nearby in Chicago and we get to see them at least once a week (usually to baby-sit--ha!). Another 11-year-old granddaughter lives 3 hours away, and she has spent many weekends and even weeks with us, which we treasure. If we'd known how wonderful and amazing it is to have grandchildren, we'd have done that first!
We also have four foster grandchildren (we raised a foster daughter through her teen years) who live nearby. They have other grandparents, so we don't see them as much, but we do celebrate birthdays and occasionally get together for picnics or celebrations.

7. What's next?

I'm working on a new series, tentatively titled, "The Yada Yada House of Hope" which has a new main character and a new Chicago setting, but with a few of the original Yada Yada characters showing up throughout the story. Not a sequel--maybe a spin off! I'm a third of the way into the first book so far . . .

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