Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Melissa Spoelstra & Total Christmas Makeover

Posted November 22, 2017 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, giveaway, Melissa Spoelstra, nonfiction / 31 Comments

Please join me today in welcoming Melissa Spoelstra back to the blog!

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God’s Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of the “First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree,” “Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness,” and “Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World Bible” studies and “Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home” book. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids.

You can connect with Melissa on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter.

Her latest book, Total Christmas Makeover, is a Christmas devotional

Give your Christmas a makeover with this practical approach to help your family learn what it means to truly celebrate their Savior.

In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do. But it’s important to pause and remember that our priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ’s birth and not forget to invite Jesus to his own party.

Christmas is far more than a celebration of an event from long ago or a modern holiday centered around shopping. Mindfully take time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Christmas story as the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provide encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and his wisdom for us today.

In Total Christmas Makeover, author and Bible teacher Melissa Spoelstra provides a practical approach for you and your family to turn your attention toward God’s grace day-by-day as you prepare for Christmas. This 31-day devotional presents key scriptures, ideas to implement with each reading, and questions for reflection to guide you in rediscovering rituals, relationship, and rest to connect you more deeply with Christ this holiday season.

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My Review:

Hi Melissa! Welcome back to the blog!

Q: Books are kind-of a big deal around here! Tell me some good books you’ve read recently.

Melissa: I loved Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance. I love reading about people’s real-life experiences and how their family upbringing and culture impacted them. I also enjoyed Prayer by Tim Keller recently. It inspired me to pray not just for circumstances to change but for me to grow spiritually during trials and that God would be gloried through the ups and downs of my life.

Carrie: I have been told by more than one person that I would love Hillbilly Elegy! Need to find time to read it soon.

Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write? 

Melissa: I am sitting in my favorite writing space right now as I type. It’s the living room couch right next to an end table where I can put my cup of tea. While it means I face a lot of distractions with family stuff going on all around at times, I love feeling like I’m not missing things at home. 

Carrie: Priorities 🙂

Q: Why write a Christmas devotional? Why is that important to you?

Melissa: Christmas is a time when many of us struggle to stay connected to Jesus. Bible studies and small groups take a break for the holiday, and the activities of Christmas can crowd out time for meaningful rituals, relationships, and rest. What a way to say Happy Birthday to Jesus by having no time for Him. As I studied biblical celebrations while writing a Bible study in the book of Numbers, I noticed that holy days were meant to be celebrations. God loves a good party. However, it takes intentionality and focus to rediscover the meaning behind all our modern Christmas activity. My prayer is that these 31 devotions will inspire Christ-followers to connect with the Savior they celebrate this holiday season.

Carrie: “What a way to say Happy Birthday to Jesus by having no time for Him.” — oo that hits me where I am.

Q: What is something that surprised you the most while researching Total Christmas Makeover?

Melissa: I was overwhelmed with how much the Lord emphasized the need to rest during celebrations. He instructed people to do no regular work during feasts that sometimes lasted for days. In our culture work bleeds into everyday life with email on our phones and laptops in our bags. It takes focus and preparation to disconnect from work responsibilities and wholeheartedly focus on God during holiday now more than ever in history.

Carrie: We definitely do not live in a culture of ‘rest’.

Q: I want to talk about rest some more because I think that’s the hardest for me to do. How are we supposed to fit rest into December? Isn’t rest what January is for? 😉

Melissa: Rest requires preparation. It means we must leave some margin in our schedules and finances. We must block off chunks of time and guard them as an important commitment. Biblical celebration always required Sabbath. No regular work was to be done. This has never been as challenging as it is now with email on our phone and notifications galore. To take a true break from ordinary work, it might mean locking up devices or just checking them a little less frequently. Rest isn’t watching more television. It means giving our minds, bodies and souls a chance to stop and leave space to hear from God. True rest produces no work, but it does leave us refreshed and reflective.

Carrie: I am absolutely finding in my own life that rest has to be intentional or it just doesn’t happen.

Q: In what ways can rest mean different things for different people?

Melissa: Introverts and extroverts often find different types of things restful. As an introvert, I like to rest alone. I enjoy reading, napping, sitting outside or going for a stroll. My extroverted husband still likes a good nap and some of these activities as well, but he feels rested talking with friends or family. He enjoys a family game or a walk with others. Being with people replenishes him while being alone recharges me. Each person must discover the type of things that help them feel rested and connected to God. At Christmas, I enjoy sitting on my couch each evening just looking at the lights on my Christmas tree. I think about my day and my God and take a few minutes to savor what Jesus has done in my life.

Carrie: I’m with you on the introverted side of things 🙂

Q: I guess we should stop before we go any further and define – what is a total Christmas makeover?

Melissa: A total Christmas makeover doesn’t mean scrapping all your holiday traditions or adding ten more to your list. Instead, it is a personal time of reflection to evaluate how your Christmas practices align with some biblical concepts of celebration. The Old Testament is filled with instructions to celebrate and remember with marked days and times. Passover, festivals and feasts were instituted by God to help His people remember who He is and what He has done.

While we have no such specifics given for our celebration of Christ’s birth because it comes from church history rather than biblical mandate, we can glean some important principles about celebration from Scripture. In studying the holy days God instructed the Israelites to observe in the Old Testament, we notice three key elements consistent in their practices. Rituals, including special gatherings, particular foods and specific actions, helped God’s people remember His faithfulness. Relationships were a key part of everything. Rest was mandated, and stopping ordinary work helped people savor God’s goodness. As we think about our Christmas rituals, relationships and time for rest, we can make simple Spirit-led changes that will help us celebrate Jesus and bring realignment to His mission. That is a total Christmas makeover. 

Carrie: I really enjoyed this aspect to the devotional – the alignment with biblical celebration and the three sections you divided the readings into ♥

Q: How do you personally approach the Christmas season differently now than you did five or ten years ago?

Melissa: I’m less concerned about doing what I think I “should” do and more focused on spending time with the Savior I celebrate. I still love many of the rituals of Christmas and continue to decorate, attend parties, incorporate family devotions and prepare for special church services. I’m just more OK with saying no to some things. I don’t have to attend every party we are invited to. With teenagers, we now do weekly family devotions in December where they take turns leading. I spend more moments savoring, singing and praying and less time fretting, shopping and trying to make everything “just right.”

Carrie: I love this. Yes.

Q: What do you most want readers to take away from Total Christmas Makeover?

Melissa: Intimacy with Jesus. My prayer is that they would grow closer to the Savior they celebrate through their holiday rituals, their relationships with people, and also take time for restorative practices like rest. 

Carrie: Amen.

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.

Melissa: I’m currently researching and writing my next Bible study. It will focus on Elijah’s life and help us grow in spiritual stamina. Elijah had some high moments where he called down fire from heaven and some low moments when he wanted to be done with life and ministry. Elijah didn’t quit and followed God through unexpected paths. I’m learning some lessons from Elijah’s life to help me keep running the race of faith even when I’m weary and weak. My prayer is that it will encourage many women whether they are in a difficult season or a celebratory season or somewhere in between!

Because I love it so much, I want to give one of my readers a print copy of Total Christmas Makeover! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What do you do to keep your focus on Jesus during the busy holiday season?

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31 responses to “Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Melissa Spoelstra & Total Christmas Makeover

  1. Michelle Lunsford

    “I’m less concerned about doing what I think I “should” do and more focused on spending time with the Savior I celebrate.”

    What a wonderful way to revel in the Christmas season. Looking forward to enjoying this devotional, and prayerfully seeing what God wants to do in my heart this holiday.

  2. Amy

    I make sure to keep my devotion time and not allow the holiday distract from the Person who the holiday is about. Really like the author’s quote that “God loves a good party”. He proves it by His Word which opens with a wedding between Adam and Eve and ends with the marriage fest of the Lamb and His church.

  3. Becky Smith

    I keep my time in the Word & prayer. I’ve actually been able to slow down now that our children are grown, and have decided many things are not necessary. I’ve tried to be more of a “Mary” and less of a “Martha”. I really enjoyed meeting Melissa in this post and her book sounds really good. I never thought about the rest during the festivals.

  4. Kay Garrett

    I keep my focus on Jesus during the busy holiday season by example. Christmas shouldn’t be about gifts but when gifts are given, like the three wise men, they should have meaning and given with love and respect. I try to do this with the little ones by reminding them of the reason for the season whether its in song, story telling or even as simple as us baking up goodies together to share with the shut in elderly we know showing that giving of oneself with gifts of love mean more than all the store bought just run and grab gifts in the world.

  5. Evangeline

    I re-read all the scriptures related to the birth of Jesus, listen to Christmas music, and attend Christmas services. Thank you for the interview. Melissa is a new-to-me author, and I would love to win a copy of her book to use during the Christmas season. Blessings on your writing, Melissa.

  6. Tracey Hagwood

    Hi Melissa and Carrie,
    I’m reading Total Christmas Makeover right now. When I first saw the title I was intrigued and as I read what it was about, it totally mirrored my own thoughts about celebrating Jesus birthday, but being too busy and having no time for HIM! I’m only a fourth of the way in but I like the devotions and ways to put it into practice.

    I don’t know if this is in the book, but my own tip is to decide what’s important and do some of those things in Nov. instead of waiting for Dec, which flies by at warp speed. So my “divide and conquer” plan means I have already done half my gift shopping, half my decorating and bought my cards and stamps. It puts me in a good place to enjoy the next 4 weeks, finish the rest of the shopping, address and mail the cards and then wrap the presents. I’m already feeling less stress and that push to get it all done. I have time now to watch a movie, read some of my favorite Christmas stories and focus more on Jesus’ birth.

  7. danielle hammelef

    To keep my focus on Jesus, I read my devotional every day and the first decoration that goes up is our Nativity set.

  8. Winnie Thomas

    I try not to get too caught up in the commercial side of Christmas. I also try to get things done early, so I can enjoy December more and focus more on the Savior. I never go in debt for Christmas. I don’t think Jesus would appreciate us going into debt to celebrate his birthday. I try to look for ways I can help and serve others.

    • Carrie

      that’s such a good point – going in debt just to feed material ‘wants’ certainly doesn’t honor Jesus.

  9. emilee

    This sounds like a lovely idea for a devotional! I just do what I try to do every other day of the year. Read the Word, pray and sing praises to the Lord! He is so good and blesses me beyond measure!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Sabrina Templin

    I need a holiday makeover! I try to think of others as Jesus would…that’s what goes through my mind during the holiday.

  11. Ja'net S

    The season itself reminds me of the sacrifice that was made for me on Calvary’s cross. I love everything about the holiday season and I’m so thankful that I get to celebrate and teach my son about it as well.

  12. Penny Mooney

    Thank you for this book! I wish everyone would read it. We need to get back to the real reason on Christmas and bring God back to the United States. Once again thank you from my heart. May God bless you and yours.

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