Linda Cox is a regular contributor to DivineDetour. She is also the author of several recently published short-form inspirational and devotional works including All My Bad Habits I Learned from Grandpa (Thomas Nelson), The One-Year Life Verse Devotional (Tyndale), Life Lessons from Grandparents (Write Integrity), and the Love Is a Verb devotional (Bethany House). Her latest published piece is included in I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That (Chicken Soup for the Soul).

A retired district office secretary for the State of Illinois, Linda lives on a farm with her husband and their two indoor/outdoor mutts.

What sparked your interest in writing?

I never thought of myself as a writer. I was a good student in high school. Then I went to college and met “English 101.” My first written assignment was returned with more red ink on it than black. With a grade of D-. Welcome to college.

When I moved into the e-mail world, I started writing to a few friends about the amusing things that happened on our farm. Several encouraged me to write, especially you, Kathy! You were my biggest encourager and mentor. You sent me the first “call for submissions” that I responded to. It’s especially meaningful that my first story and first devotion were published in books in which you also had a story and devotion.

I consider myself a “devo dabbler” more than a writer. But you’ve continued to encourage me and teach me. Your love for writing is contagious. And I’ve kept writing. Thank you.

So, you see . . . it really is all your fault.

How does your faith play into it?

My faith in Christ is the most important part of my life and thus it’s the most important part of my writing. If I am not living out my faith in Christ, what’s the purpose of my life? And if my writing is not in some way about my faith, then why am I writing? My goal in anything I do or write is to honor my Lord and to help people move one step closer to Him.

Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?

Yes. In fact, I think much of my life has been made up of detours as God nudged me over and over again to find the path that would lead me back to Him. He had a plan for my life; and while I was trying to run away like Jonah, He kept pulling me back toward His plan. It took my life falling apart and my returning home broken and defeated. But it was then that I heard Him and started on my journey back to Him. There have been twists and turns, ups and downs, but He continues with me every step of the way. And no matter what detour might lie ahead, I know He’s already there to guide me through it.

Let’s talk about your latest published piece, a fun story that appears in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That (September 2012) compiled by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Jennifer Quasha. Please tell us a little about it.

The story, entitled “Rock Around the Clock” was written about, and in memory of, my third Boston Terrier, Mr. Buster von Baer. Mr. Buster lived life at two speeds—stopped and full-tilt. Unfortunately a brain tumor cut his life short at six and a half years. But he gave me lots of memories and stories. I think this “rock” story is one of the funniest. And one where I had to admit “I am NOT smarter than a Boston Terrier.”

My previous Bostons, Slugger and Boomer, were special too. But I always felt God had His hand on Buster and sent him to me so I could care for him in his last days on earth. Writing a story like this was cathartic as I remembered the little rock hound’s antics that spring day and smiled.

What do you love most about writing devotions and other short pieces?

Good question. For one thing, I love learning. So having to condense my thoughts into short devotions has been a challenging, as well as fun, learning experience. (I am blessed with a good editor!)

Even more, the devotions give me an opportunity to write/talk about our Lord and learn more about Him. I love spending time in His Word, looking at verses and commentaries, and seeing more clearly how God fits into all we do. It’s fun seeing a potential devotion pop up in a simple daily activity. It’s easy to compartmentalize our life—church and church activities on one side, all the rest of life on the other side. But God is in BOTH sides. And writing devotions has helped me see Him in all the facets of life.

And, most importantly, if something I write brings encouragement or a smile to another person, or even a new way of looking at things for them, then it’s worth all the effort.

What inspires you, i.e. where do you usually get your ideas?

Morning prayer walks with the Lord and my devotional time with Him bring the most ideas. And if the ideas don’t originate there, it’s at least during these times that ideas from the shower or something stupid I’ve done or “whatever” take shape, attach themselves to Bible verses, and grow into devotions. I know this. Whatever I am doing when the idea pops, the idea is always from God. Anything I write is Him not me. And it never ceases to amaze me how many times He provides something for me to read or hear on the radio or in a sermon that just fits exactly with the devotion I am working on at that time.

A few fun questions…

When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?

Ooh—that’s a hard one. Let me think . . . Chocolate. Chocolate. AND chocolate. I doubt I need to explain why. Nor will I tell you exactly how much chocolate has been consumed while doing this interview.

This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?

In the past I have played the piano and clarinet. One of my retirement goals has been to start playing the piano again. So far I’ve purchased the adult refresher course books. That was over a year ago . . . .

If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?

Good old Southern Gospel. Some days I’m the “get-up-and-go” song with hands raised in the air in praise to the Lord, shouting “Glory! Hallelujah!” On other days I’m the “fall-on-my-knees” song, crying “Holy!” in worship of the Lord.

Are you a major or a minor chord?

Minor. I love the sound minor chords bring to music. I’m just drawn to it. I think that’s because all my life I have felt on the outside looking in, going in a different direction than everybody else, always out of step with the world.

In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?

I’m the country mouse next door who occasionally, and very uncomfortably, dons high heels to venture into the city mouse’s world.

Please tell us about your current family of pets!

We currently have two indoor/outdoor farm mutts, collectively known as “The Bone Mafia.” Miss Chris (a border collie/spaniel mix) showed up at our farm a few years ago and promptly informed us she was here to stay. Deal with it.

Mr. Nellie (a pit bull mix) was adopted from the local humane shelter. He’s our “bubba couch potato.” While I have a special place in my heart for Boston Terriers, I also know these two mutts love me as much as any dog could. And the feelings are mutual.

Thanks, Linda! It’s nice to finally have you as a “guest” at DivineDetour.

Thanks for inviting me, Kathy. I enjoyed doing the interview. Blessings always!

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