This is part two of my interview with Marla Taviano.
To find out who she is and to see the first half of the interview, head on over to yesterday’s post and then head on back here to see what she has to say today.
The Interview… Continued.
Marla, you write and speak and Gabe designs websites. Those are both occupations which don’t guarantee an income. You have three daughters to look after, do you ever get people telling you you should get ‘real’ jobs so you can support your family?
Gabe actually did go and get a “real” job at the end of March of this year. We were just getting so far behind on everything, and through an amazing series of circumstances, God dumped this job on his lap. He’s now the Director of Digital Presence (what a fun title, huh?) at a local Christian radio station. He feels this is where God wants him (at least for now), but I know he’d be willing to do/go wherever God calls him (us) in the future. And I have to admit, it sure was nice to have dental insurance when our middle daughter had to have $700 of work done in her mouth and it only cost us $60.
Last year you visited 52 zoos in 52 weeks. That seems like a very odd thing for a Christian family with little disposable income to do. What was that all about?
I’m writing a whole book about it, so I’ll save most of the good stuff for that. But yeah, why in the world? I’m still asking myself that question. As bizarre as it sounds, I really feel like God planted that wacky idea in my head. And what started out as, “I’ll get a book deal and fund the zoo trip,” ultimately turned into God saying, “No, you trust me minute by minute, and I’ll provide real-life, godly people (who you met through the internet) to bless you and be blessed by you.” I never did get the book deal, and God literally provided minute by minute. And we met some of the most incredible people and have some of the most incredible God-stories to share. The Zoo Trip wasn’t an end in itself; it was a metaphor for something much bigger that God wanted to do in and through us. And he’s not finished yet.
And on a more practical, tangible level, admiring God’s animal creation can be an amazing act of worship. I don’t see how anyone could look at that many different animals over the course of a year and not be convinced that they were designed by a Creator.
Marla, you write books but you seem to concentrate more on giving them away or selling them cheaply more than you do actually making money off of them. Why is that?
I just told Gabe the other day that “I’m done writing books.” Sometimes I feel like I’m just not cut out for this “author” gig. After somehow getting a book published every year for four years, I’ve hit a slump. I’m lousy at book promotion, and yeah, when I meet someone who I think could use one of my books, I tend to just give them one. Two of my books have gone out of print, which means I bought hundreds of them for a little over a dollar apiece. What I first viewed as a dismal failure and disappointment turned into a blessing, because now I can get them into the hands of people who couldn’t afford them before. I have no idea what God has in mind for my writing career. I’m just going to trust (something I’ve failed miserably at lately) he has a perfect plan.
I wish I could meet up with you guys and interview you face to face. There’s so much I’d like to ask, so much I think you could say to help my readers become more effective in their walk with Christ. Unfortunately, that’s not possible right now, but in closing, tell me, what keeps you both going? It seems like you must be very specially gifted to be able to live the way you do and give as generously as you do. Has God given you some special gift or ability which most of us don’t have. How do you keep focused on him in the midst of struggle and adversity?
You’re too kind, Peter. There is nothing special about us, and believe me, I’m not into false humility, so I’m talking straight. I will say that the nature of our gifting is pretty cool (and totally God). I write and Gabe’s an artist/technology whiz, so we have the ability to communicate with a lot of people in a way that will resonate with them in 2010. For example, on our year-long Zoo Adventure, we stayed with 31 families (17 of whom we’d never met in person before we showed up at their door). This isn’t something you can just do without online communication/networking. And our Cambodia trip? We had to raise $5000 as a couple to go (on a team with 5 others from our church). We raised every last penny online. We got checks from people we’ve never met. Again, God used the gifting he gave us to make his plans for us possible. I know I don’t have the time/space to go into this, but Cambodia rocked my world. I don’t know what all God has planned, but I’m ready. I know I’m not up for the task on my own, but I can do ANYTHING through Christ who gives me strength.
Thank you, Marla for being willing to be a part of this series. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.
Looking back now, there is so much I could have asked, so much I could have had you share with my readers but I hope that this small interview will bless many people and inspire them to take a leap of faith and let God lead them into the great unknown!
If you’d like to hear more from Marla and be encouraged day by day through her blog, then head on over to marlataviano.com and see what she has to share!