Donna Gaines is a speaker, author of Choose Wisely, Live Fully, Seated: Living from Our Position in Christ and Leaving Ordinary: Encounter God Through Extraordinary Prayer, and founder of ARISE2Read – a nonprofit that recruits churches to adopt and provide tutors for inner-city elementary schools. Donna also teaches Bible study at her home church, Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church, in which her husband, Steve Gaines, Southern Baptist Convention President, pastors. She is the mother of four and “Nonna” to ten grandchildren.
Her new book – Choose Wisely, Live Fully – released August 15 2017 from Abingdon Press.
The Book of Proverbs is a gold mine of divine wisdom. Author and speaker Donna Gaines applies that wisdom in very practical ways to the issues women face. Choose Wisely, Live Fully examines the blessings and curses associated with the choices made by the two women in Proverbs: Wisdom and Folly. Gaines harnesses her two passions–discipleship and literacy–to challenge women of all ages to become “biblically literate.” Biblical illiteracy makes us vulnerable to influences that do not represent biblical truth. This book is a wonderful discipleship tool that will help equip you to: discern the voice of God and follow His path (the path of Wisdom instead of the path of Folly); experience the joy of wholehearted obedience; and let God help you mentor the lives around you in remarkable ways.
Exploring the timeless counsel of God’s Word, Choose Wisely, Live Fully is your invitation to embark on the transforming journey of faithfulness as you seek God and boldly choose the path that leads to life.
I love the Book of Proverbs. It weaves deep theology with the kind of practical handles a guy like me needs every single day. That’s also why I love Choose Wisely, Live Fully. Donna Gaines does a great job balancing the unvarnished truth of Scripture with real-life application. That powerful combination can change your life–and the lives of those you love.
—Dave Ramsey, best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio show host
Choose Wisely, Live Fully creates a beautiful launching pad from which women can not only learn but also share biblical truths that have the capacity to change their lives and the lives of generations to come. Donna and her daughters share personal stories and godly wisdom that bring the book of Proverbs alive. A teacher at heart, Donna, skillfully equips women with practical tools to help those we love choose the path that leads to the abundant life Jesus promises. The path that will fill them with godly confidence, self-worth, purpose, and direction.
—Wendy Blight, Author and writer for the Proverbs 31 Ministries First 5 app
Hi Donna! Welcome to the blog! I start all of my guests out with a fast four:
Donna: Apples, because I like the texture and taste.
Carrie: Yes! me too!
Donna: Summer – I love the plants, and all water sports.
Carrie: I love seeing all the plants – as long as I don’t have to be responsible for them lol
Donna: Dogs, definitely. They are more playful and loyal.
Carrie: Perfect answer!
Donna: Coffee – I don’t like to do mornings without it!
Carrie: I don’t do coffee but I do have to have my morning caffeine fix 🙂
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Donna: Reading as well. I am an avid reader and have been since I was a child. My father would often come in to confiscate my flashlight, as I tried to finish my latest book under the covers.
Carrie: Haha! I think a lot of us can relate to that, me included.
Q: Books are kind-of a big deal around here. Other than the Bible, what are five of your most cherished books?
Donna: I love books. They invite me into another person’s thoughts and insights. I feel like I get to know the author as I read their books. I have often told people I was never formally discipled, but instead was discipled by dead people, through their writings. My favorites are A. W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God), Amy Carmichael (Whispers of His Power), Elizabeth Elliott (A Chance to Die, biography of Amy Carmichael), Watchman Nee (The Release of the Spirit), and Ken Gire (Windows of the Soul). I must confess this was a difficult task. Narrowing my favorites to only five was tough!
Carrie: It IS a tough question… but I’m kinda not sorry LOL. I love your answers!
Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Donna: My favorite space to write is a chair in my bedroom. I like it because it is quiet, secluded and I can leave my stack of books and papers strewn around me until I am finished. I work in an organized mess. The book shelves that line this room are filled with books that have impacted my life, and they seem to inspire me. I never anticipated being an author. My love for studying and teaching God’s Word led me to write.
Carrie: “I work in an organized mess” – love it! Me too 🙂
Q: Why write about Proverbs, specifically Wisdom and Folly? Why was that important to you?
Donna: We all need wisdom. Life can throw us some curves, and without the sure foundation of God’s Word, we can be sent reeling. Proverbs has always drawn me, but it was after hearing a pastor mention the two women of Proverbs that I began to study Wisdom and Folly. What I found astounded me. These two women represent the two paths that Jesus taught about – the narrow path and the broad path. One leads to life and the other to death. We choose the path upon which we travel and the choices we make determine our destination.
Carrie: Oh wow! God’s Word is such a gold mine – the deeper you dig, the more treasure you find!
Q: What is something that surprised you the most while researching Choose Wisely, Live Fully?
Donna: I suppose the greatest surprise was recognizing the practicality of God’s Word and its implications for our lives. We know this intellectually, but it is as we work through God’s Word and begin to make it a part of our lives that we begin to “see” the truths God reveals to seekers. I often think of it like what happened when I tried contacts for the first time last year. I have astigmatism and am far-sighted. I had compensated by wearing readers. When I put in the contacts suddenly everything appeared to be so much clearer, almost 3D. I had no idea how poorly I had been seeing until I looked through the contacts and saw clearly. God’s Word is the lens through which we view life as God has created it to function. He has given us His Word for our good and our flourishing. We see clearly, only through the lens of Scripture.
Carrie: I love that analogy! So true.
Q: How were your three daughters involved in the writing of Choose Wisely, Live Fully?
Donna: As you work through the book you will see the chapters devoted to the characteristics of Wisdom and Folly. Each chapter features the blessing of wisdom and the very opposite curse associated with Folly. At the end of each of these chapters my daughters wrote a “blog post”-type article about how they learned this particular truth or how it was manifest in their lives.
Carrie: That’s so great! Involving them in this process must have been special for all of you.
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from your book?
Donna: I want readers to know that God has paved a pathway with His Word that not only leads to wisdom, but to life. Real life. The abundant life that Jesus Christ died to give us. The choice is ours. The only way to choose wisdom and life is to choose Christ. He is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Donna: I will be teaching through the book of Hebrews this fall along with Jean Stockdale through our women’s ministry. These sessions are live-streamed and can be viewed at Bellevue.org. I am also the founder and President of ARISE2Read a nonprofit that recruits churches and businesses to adopt inner city schools to focus on literacy. We are experiencing astounding results and expanding rapidly. Please check us out at arise2read.org.
What about you? Have you studied Proverbs before? What is one of your favorite verses about wisdom?