Food for the SoulTweet
Posted 8/20/14 at 1:27 PM | Audra Jennings
What happens when you bring the truth of who you are into the light? In her impressive debut novel, The Sea House (St. Martin’s Press/April 15, 2014/ISBN: 978-1250043344/$25.99), author Elisabeth Gifford introduces readers to characters who are forced to dig up the pain and secrets of their past in order to let the fresh air of faith and grace purify and heal the broken places in their heart.
Gifford was inspired to write The Sea House after coming across a letter in The Times archives from 1809, in which a Scottish schoolmaster claimed to have spotted a mermaid. Weaving the ancient Gaelic myth of the selkies into her story, she has created a sweeping tale of hope and redemption that is an ode to the healing readers can find when they acknowledge the truth about themselves.
Readers of The Sea House are taken back to 1860 and meet Alexander Ferguson, a newly ordained vicar and amateur scientist who takes up his new parish on the poor, isolated Scottish island of Harris. He hopes to uncover the truth behind the legend of the selkies — mermaids or seal people who have been sighted off the northern coasts of Scotland for centuries. Family legend says Alexander is actually descended from selkies. As he struggles to be a good pastor, his maid Moira faces the eviction of her family by Lord Marstone, whose family owns the island. Their time on the island will forever change the course of their lives, but the white house where the vicar lives on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after they are gone.
Readers may identify much of their own faith journey in the vicar’s story. “Alexander says he believes in grace, but he really believes in a formula where his particular failures cannot really be forgiven,” Gifford reveals. “So he tries incredibly hard to become a better person. Only after he sees how miserably he fails as a pastor does he let go and accept the mystery of grace.”
It will be more than a century before the house reluctantly gives up its secrets, when Ruth and Michael buy the grand, yet dilapidated, building and begin to turn it into a home. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery: Buried under the house are the tiny bones of a baby whose fragile legs are fused together. Is it a mermaid child? Who buried the bones and why? To heal her own demons, Ruth feels she must discover the secrets of her new home — but the answers to her questions may lie in her own traumatic past.
Connecting with the truth of one’s story is a critical theme in The Sea House. “I suppose there’s a human impulse to invent a better self so other people, and even God, will like us more and not turn away from us,” Gifford explains. “Jesus came to a very real and ordinary world, and that’s where God meets us. He sees all of us and doesn’t turn away. For Christians, we have the option of rewriting our stories around the extravagant love shown to us on the cross, if we choose to.”
About the Author
Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University and has published poems in Cinnamon Press and The Oxford Magazine. She’s also written articles for The Times and The Independent, along with a nonfiction book, The House of Hope (2011), a biography of Dr. Joyce Hill who opened a rescue center for abandoned babies in China. The Sea House has been shortlisted for the Historical Writer’s Association Crown debut award. Her second novel, Return to Fourwinds, will be released in 2015.
Gifford has a degree in creative writing from Oxford OUDCE and an M.A. in creative writing from Royal Holloway College. She is married to an illustrator, and together they have three children. The family divides their time between Kingston, near London, and the Hebrides in Scotland.
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Posted 8/19/14 at 9:59 AM | Audra Jennings |
They say blood is thicker than water, and in her latest release, Home to Chicory Lane (Abingdon Press/August 19, 2014/ISBN: 978-1426769696/$14.99), Deborah Raney writes a story that examines how the love of our family can help us weather life’s storms. The first book in the new Chicory Inn series introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has launched all of her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some of her own dreams during her empty-nest years. However, not all of her children are ready to stay out of the nest quite yet.
Raney has beautifully captured the tenderness — and turmoil — of family life in her new release. It was easy for her to do. “We have four grown children and five grandchildren . . . so far!” Raney says. “So, as you can imagine, family is extremely important to us. We’re both close to our families, and all of the good, the bad, the ugly, the wonderful of being part of a family, went into this series.”
Readers of Home to Chicory Lane will meet all of the Whitmans, including Audrey and her husband, Grant, who are turning their beloved family home into a bed and breakfast. As Audrey works toward opening weekend, she is more than a little anxious, even as she joyfully anticipates her family and friends gathering from across the country to help celebrate the occasion.
What she doesn’t expect is her youngest daughter, the newly-married Landyn, to arrive with a U-Haul, clearly intending to stay more than just a few days. Questions flood Audrey’s mind: What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn's husband, Chase? It appears the Chicory Inn will be getting off to a bit of a rocky start.
The empty-nest parents of the story aren’t the only ones opening their doors to adult children — it’s a phenomenon increasing in the current economic climate, leading to the question: Is a parent’s job ever really done? “I think it is — or at least it should be,” Raney weighs in. “Ken and I loved how the relationship switch flipped from parent to friend at a certain point. Now, our job is to encourage, enjoy, give advice only when asked and to be the best grandparents we can be to our kids’ kids. That’s the true reward of all those sleepless nights raising our kids.”
In Home to Chicory Lane, that kind of parental love shines through Audrey’s character. As the stress of running her own business mounts, she will soon begin to wonder if she will be able to realize her dream while still providing her daughter with the comfort of home she so desperately needs.
Despite the challenges they face, Raney reminds us in Home to Chicory Lane that our family — whether brought to us through birth, marriage or adoption — is a gift given to us by God. Readers will come away from this warm and moving book with a new appreciation for family, in all its forms and functions.
Join Deborah Raney for a live Facebook Party on September 9 at 8:00 PM EDT, where she will chat with readers about the Chicory Inn series and give away copies of Home to Chicory Lane. Watch for more details on her Facebook Page.
About the author
Deborah Raney accomplished something very few authors are able to do with their first book. Her debut novel, A Vow to Cherish (originally published in 1996), inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Since then, her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists.
Deborah and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas –– the setting of many of Raney’s novels –– for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Raney also enjoys teaching at writers’ conferences across the country.
Life Promotions, founded by international speaker and author Bob Lenz, is partnering with Lifetouch, the world’s largest employee-owned photography company, to supply Lenz’ new book entitled Dignity Revolution: Standing up for the value of every person, to 6000 middle schools around the nation. Co-authored with award-winning educator, Deborah Tackmann, Dignity Revolution is a culmination of Lenz’ three decades of leading assemblies in over 3000 public schools on the issues of bullying, self-harm, suicide and substance abuse. Since 1982, Lenz has reached an estimated four million youth in the U.S. and around the world.
“We are humbled and thrilled that Lifetouch has partnered with us to get this book into the hands of students and teachers around the nation,” says Lenz. “If you look at the number of addictions, cuttings, suicides, and school shootings, it can be discouraging. So how can we help this generation that seems to have so many opportunities before them, use those opportunities to their advantage in positive ways? That’s what I hope we can accomplish with the Dignity Revolution. The 8th and 9th grader is our core target group. We recognize we may not be able to stop all bullying, but we can teach kids how to stand up for themselves and not become victims of others, and how not to become bullies.” FULL POST
Pelican Book Group, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC, has announced the creation of its new imprint,Pure Amore, to launch books beginning in October. Pure Amore will be the first romance genre imprint to promote abstinence before marriage. Editor in Chief for Pelican, Nicola Martinez, says the content of the books will be something both Christians and non-Christians will embrace, but that there was a specific goal in mind while forming the new imprint.
“I wanted to produce something that would help young people to see how precious the gift of their virginity is to their future spouse,” says Martinez. “The truth is that each individual is worth waiting for and lovemaking is intended to create a bond with only one special person. To believe and act on this one truth will, across the board, increase self-worth and peer respect, strengthen marriages, cut the rate of unwanted pregnancy, and so many other things. As a Christian publisher that publishes romance—promotes lasting love between a man and a woman—I felt we could definitely do something to promote chastity.” FULL POST
Posted 8/5/14 at 11:09 AM | Audra Jennings
When you can’t get over the mistakes of your past, it’s nearly impossible to accept the gifts of the present. In her final installment in the Wings of the Nightingale series, In Perfect Time (Revell/August 1, 2014/ISBN: 978-0800720834/$14.99), Sarah Sundin introduces readers to two characters entrenched in the perils of World War II who are forced to confront their inability to receive the love and grace of God.
Bold, sophisticated and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. Sundin reveals there is more than meets the eye to Kay’s coquettish ways. “For Kay, collecting men’s hearts gives her a sense of control and also serves as a form of rebellion against her overbearing father.”
Kay’s tumultuous relationship with her dad has also impacted the way she views God. Like so many others, she has subconsciously transferred the weaknesses of her earthly father onto the Lord. “For Kay, this is a serious problem, one she isn’t even aware of,” Sundin explains. “We must recognize this natural human tendency, and then carefully extract the negative traits we’ve unwittingly placed on our perfect God. Immersing ourselves in the Bible and in prayer shows us the truths of who God actually is.”
Ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper initially appears to be all but immune to Kay’s considerable charms. Ashamed of his past, Roger has built walls around his heart to protect himself from temptation, yet he is intensely drawn to the beautiful flight nurse. As he glimpses the pain in her heart, he begins to wonder if his story might be just what she needs to hear.
As the two cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don't want to go. Can they confront their pasts and accept the gift of love that is calling out to them?
Although Sundin never quotes this Scripture in the book, she admits much of In Perfect Time was inspired by James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Both Kay and Roger have to find a way to accept the fact that God doesn’t give to us because we’re good, but because He is good. They can’t earn His gifts — and neither can we.
Sundin admits bringing her Wings of the Nightingale series to an end was as bittersweet for her as it will be for her readers. Yet while fans mourn the end of this series, they will also be enraptured by this tale filled with emotion, action and romance, as it transcends time and calls them to believe in the power of love.
About the Author
Sarah Sundin is the author of The Wings of the Nightingale series and Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sundin received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Award from both the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and the Christian Authors Network (CAN). She belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers, CAN and AWSA. Sundin plans to continue to focus on World War II for her upcoming Waves of Freedom series about three naval officers based in Boston.
A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, Sundin works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy, and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England.
Sundin lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.
Posted 7/24/14 at 4:54 PM | Audra Jennings
An Interview with Christi Lynn,
Marketing Director for the Odyssey Adventure Club
As media use continues to explode among children and teens, parents’ concerns about what their children could be uncovering while online increases. On average, children get their first smartphone at age 12, and research suggests kids and teens are spending more than 7.5 hours a day with their electronic devices — and often without a safety net. That’s exactly why Focus on the Family is launching the Odyssey Adventure Club, a safe and fun environment where children can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth.
Media is a way of life for kids today, and we understand that. That’s why we created the Odyssey Adventure Club: to provide online, on-the-go delivery of more than 300 hours of safe, biblically-based audio entertainment. For more than 25 years, Adventures in Odyssey has been fostering spiritual and character growth in listeners. Many parents have come to trust us for solid lessons brought to life by fun characters. While we can’t monitor how many episodes a child hears, we can guarantee it’s an investment into their life every time.
Q: Some research shows that kids from age 8 to 18 spend more than 7.5 hours a day with electronic devices like a computer, phone or TV — why should this be a concern to parents?
We believe kids should be using their imagination and interacting with their family and friends. Many times media today tends to isolate. While the Odyssey Adventure Club is consumed through a computer or mobile device, it doesn’t require a child to sit and stare at a screen. Kids can listen to episodes while doing other activities, like coloring, playing with their toys or outside, riding in the car or exercising. The Odyssey Adventure Club also provides activities and devotions meant to be done as a family, encouraging that important interaction. Through the audio dramas, imagination is brought to life for kids within the theatre of the mind.
Q: How can parents leverage media to build a solid Christian worldview in their children?
There are a number of ways in everyday routines that parents can use media to teach their children. For instance, if you’re listening to Christian music, you can ask them, “What do you think the lyrics of this song mean?” Or if you’re watching a movie or TV show, you can talk with your child about the plotline and how it relates to morality, God and truth.
As parents, we have to equip our children with the knowledge and wisdom to face various situations in life, whether it’s something like bullying or lying, or understanding relationships. Adventures in Odyssey has episodes that touch on all of these issues and many, many more. With the Odyssey Adventure Club platform, you can even search for episodes on a subject matter and use it as a teaching tool.
Q: How does the Odyssey Adventure Club help moms and dads make spiritual investments into the lives of their children?
Through the power of story and imagination, Adventures in Odyssey teaches life lessons through the lens of a biblical worldview. This helps a child grow and develop spiritually. All of our episodes with the Odyssey Adventure Club are also connected to a devotional, which will give parents the ability to tie together easily the program to a scripture and a spiritual lesson. Additionally, parents will find a daily devotional on the website that will take their children and their family deeper on their spiritual walk.
Q: What is available to families through membership in the Odyssey Adventure Club?
Families will have access to more than 740 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and videos that highlight some of the real-life stories on which some of the dramas were based. The Web Quests feature hands-on learning and fun activities that enhance the audio dramas. Plus, with the member e-newsletter, parents can engage their child on a deeper level and use daily devotions for family time. They’ll also get exclusive new episodes each month, a subscription to Clubhouse magazine and a “behind-the-scenes” blog.
Q: How will this online club be kept safe for kids to explore on their own?
We require a parent to sign their child up, which helps to ensure that parents are aware of their kids’ involvement. All comments on the website are pre-moderated, and we do not allow any personally identifiable information to appear on the site.
We want to teach our members about giving and enlighten them to great social causes. Through our combined giving, the club can truly impact other ministries. We also hope to spread the word to our members about other great ministries that are doing God’s work around the world.
Q: The Adventures in Odyssey program has been sparking the imagination of children for 25 years. Share a few examples of how parents have used these award-winning radio dramas to disciple their children.
There are so many stories I could share of road trips, bedtime stories and devotional times. I remember one story about a boy who challenged his parents to listen to Adventures in Odyssey before bed instead of watching TV. The dad was so convicted that they started turning off the TV 30 minutes before bed and turning on Adventures in Odyssey instead. He wanted his family to start and end their day thinking about Jesus (Phil. 4:8). We have also heard numerous stories of how children were led to begin a relationship with Christ through listening to Adventures in Odyssey. We are blown away by these examples and feel humbled to play a small part in God’s larger story.
Posted 7/24/14 at 10:44 AM | Audra Jennings
To celebrate her new release, award-winning author Susan May Warren is hosting a contest every foodie will love! When I Fall in Love (Tyndale House Publishers / June 20, 2014 / ISBN 978-1414378435 / $14.99) is the third installment in Warren’s Christiansen Family series and is filled with a sense of adventure — and lots of good food.
From July 24 – August 10, Warren’s readers have the chance to win a KitchenAid mixer by entering the Hawaiian Chef Showdown, hosted on www.susanmaywarren.com. Readers can enter by creating or selecting a recipe using one of the main ingredients mentioned in the book, then pinning the recipe to Pinterest, and sharing it via other social media sites, including their blog. The grand prize winner will receive a KitchenAid mixer and all three books in the Christiansen Family series.
Food bloggers Jackie Brown from Mom on a Mission and Melissa Ringstaff from A Virtuous Woman will be creating custom recipes inspired by the book and giving away some treats of their own. More information about their contributions, as well as more details about the contest, will be available on the book’s website, whenifallinlove.susanmaywarren.com, when the contest launches on July 24. The Hawaiian Chef Showdown is being held in conjunction with the When I Fall in Love blog tour being coordinated by Litfuse Publicity Group.
The recipe contest is tied to the main storyline of When I Fall in Love. In the book, Grace Christiansen finds herself snatched from her everyday routines when her family surprises her with a trip to a cooking retreat in Hawaii. There she meets hockey player Max Sharpe, who’s trying to escape the pressures of his career for a few weeks. As the romance — and the oven — heat up in the kitchen, Grace and Max both will have to learn to step out of their expectations to find the right recipe for true love.
Susan May Warren says cooking has played a role in her own love story. “My husband is a fantastic cook. I’m more of an ‘open the fridge and see what I can create’ kind of gal,” she admits. “We could drive each other crazy — but we create great food and enjoy sitting around with our family, laughing, telling stories and feasting on life. In a similar way, Max and Grace’s story shows us we can be a winning team if we’re willing to embrace the current ingredients before us and enjoy the mess we make together.”
Readers can keep up with Susan May Warren at her website www.susanmaywarren.com and the Hawaiian Chef Showdown at whenifallinlove.susanmaywarren.com. Warren is also active on Facebook (SusanMayWarrenFiction) and Twitter (@susanmaywarren).
About the Christiansen Family series:
Set on the north shore of Minnesota, the series features the Christiansens, a family readers can identify with as they try to figure out how faith meets real life.
Darek Christiansen, heir to the historic Evergreen Lake Resort is angry since the loss of his wife. After a charity auction connects him with assistant county attorney, Ivy Madison, Darek begins to believe there might be love again in his future, but he’ll have to overcome his painful past – and Ivy’s secret connection to his wife’s death.
In It had to Be You . . .
Eden Christiansen’s job as handler for her NHL rookie brother, Owen, leaves her little time to focus on her own career. If only team enforcer, Jace, would mentor the young man. When Owen’s carelessness leads to an injury, Eden and Jace are thrown together and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.
In When I Fall in Love . . .
Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in the Aloha State, she is pulled away from her predictable life and thrown headfirst into the path of hockey player, Max Sharpe, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime.
Coming in February: Always On My Mind
About Susan May Warren:
Susan May Warren is the bestselling, Christy and RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels, whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike.
She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. Warren now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing and being involved in their local church.
Warren holds a BA in mass communications from the University of Minnesota. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God's amazing grace in our lives.
Readers can keep up with Susan May Warren at her website www.susanmaywarren.com and blog www.susanmaywarren.com/scribbles-blog/. She is also active on Facebook (SusanMayWarrenFiction) and Twitter (@susanmaywarren).
Posted 7/10/14 at 4:42 PM | Audra Jennings
Abingdon Press has created a line of books that not only appeals to a wide variety of fiction readers, but is sure to catch the interest of quilters around the world. Each novel in the 25-book series is written by a different author and offers a completely unique story, setting and cast of characters. The books do not need to be read in order and can be enjoyed individually.
The idea behind the series (launched fall 2012) is that quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family history. Featuring contemporary and historical romances, as well as Amish fiction, women’s fiction and the occasional light mystery, readers are drawn into the endearing characters and touched by their stories. A new book will be released each month through January 2015.
“The Quilts of Love series was born out of a love for storytelling, whether that happens through the pages of a book or the stitches on a quilt,” explains Cat Hoort, marketing and publicity manager for Abingdon Fiction. “For more than 30 million active quilters in the U.S., stitches, like words, frame their family heritage, share a romantic tale, celebrate the achievements of a growing family or present a journey of overcoming odds. Our series uniquely captures those stories — their stories — and gives a face to the vast number of storytellers, both writers and quilters, whose work can be enjoyed by anyone with a creative spirit.”
Some of the authors are also avid quilters such as Cathy Elliott (A Stitch in Crime, available January 2015) and Lisa Carter (Aloha Rose). “One Quilts of Love reader I met recently has read every book in the series. As a quilter myself, I look forward each month to the new release too. I'm excited for the chance to connect with other quilt-book lovers,” explains Carter.
Authors contributing to the series include debut novelists, such as Emily Wierenga (A Promise in Pieces) and Cindy Loven (co-author of Swept Away), as well as veteran award-winners and best-sellers, such as Loree Lough (For Love of Eli), who has written more than 100 books, and RT (Romantic Times) Reviewer’s Choice Award winner Robin Caroll (Hidden In the Stars). Author Vannetta Chapman (The Christmas Quilt) is no stranger to books centered around quilts — in addition to her Quilts of Love contribution, she’s also written an entire mystery series set in a quilt shop.
Quilts aren’t just a part of each book’s story. A special tradition the authors have instituted with each release is the donation of a quilt to their chosen charity or individual in need. Quilt recipients have included an orphanage in Africa, a cancer center and a shelter for young mothers.
Readers can keep up with the authors and the series via social media and the series’ website. The Quilts of Love blog features chapter excerpts, special features from each book, weekly Guess the Quilt Pattern contests with giveaways and interviews with the authors.
Each quarter the authors of the latest releases interact with readers during a live author chat hosted on Facebook. Follow the Quilts of Love Facebook page for details on upcoming events.
Posted 6/30/14 at 3:23 PM | Audra Jennings
An endearing true-to-life family comedy that celebrates the beautiful mess called parenting, award-winning author Tricia Goyer’s Moms’ Night Out (B&H Publishing Group/April 22, 2014/ISBN: 978-1433684821/$15.99) novelization of the popular film by the same name chronicles how three harried moms, their husbands, a sister-in-law with a misplaced baby, a tattoo parlor owner, a motorcycle gang and a bewildered cabbie become intrinsically intertwined in one another’s lives after one momentous moms’ night out.
Q: This book is a novelization of the new movie Moms’ Night Out, starring Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin and others. We’re used to novels being turned into movies, but not so much movies being turned into novels. How does the novelization of a movie work?
A novelization means a novel inspired by the movie. I was contacted in December asking if I’d be interested in this project. I’d seen the trailer, and (as a mom of six with a hectic household) I immediately said, “Yes!” They sent me the movie, and I watched it a few times just to get an idea of the story. I loved it! It made me laugh and really spoke to my heart. Then with the screenplay in hand, I watched the movie a scene at a time. I’d catch the dialogue, and then I’d go back and bring the characters’ actions to life on the page. So, yes, I can pretty much quote the movie as it plays!
Q: How many times did you have to watch the movie in order to write the book?
I didn’t count, but I’d say I watched each scene 20-50 times, depending on how much action or dialogue there was!
Q: How involved do you get to be with the movie premiere and all the excitement of a theatrical release?
I was so honored to be able to go to Hollywood to be part of the premiere on April 29. They listed me as “Talent,” and I got to ride to the TCL Chinese Theater in a fancy car, walk the Red Carpet, watch the movie sitting next to Alex Hendrick (an awesome movie star/producer) and then have a wonderful time getting to know all the cast better at the after party. It truly was a magical night!
Q: You’re the mother of six and a best-selling author and speaker. What advice do you have for moms who are trying to juggle their work schedule and their family responsibilities?
Know how much you can say yes to. This year the only extra-curricular activity my children were a part of was Awanas. I only have one weekly commitment other than church and our small group, and that is our Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers Support Group). We spend a lot of time playing with the neighbors and hanging out as a family. I’ve been at the spot where I’ve been running place to place with kids’ activities, and that’s not fun! After raising three kids, I’ve learned having dinners together and family time is a priority. I also balance my work commitments. As a writer my work is steady, and I have to make sure not to take on too many projects. It’s hard for me! Just last week I had to cut out some projects I really like just for the fact that I can’t do it all.
Q: Moms really do sacrifice so much for their families; why is it important for moms to make sure they’re finding rest and encouragement?
I love the well-known phrase, “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” When I am exhausted and overwhelmed, my whole family suffers. When I have time for friends and I fuel up on God, then I’m such a better mom. When I’m encouraged, then I pour encouragement out. When I’m rested, I give of myself with patience and love. It’s hard to step away, but so important too!
Q: How often do you get to have a Moms’ Night Out? Do you have a group of mommy-friends you’re able to connect with regularly?
I’m part of a small group of women at our church. They meet monthly, and I’m able to make it about every other month. I also have some girlfriends I’ll meet for lunch. Sometimes it’s hard to justify paying a babysitter to go to lunch, but I always come back refreshed. I also lead a Teen MOPS support group. The attendees and leaders range from age 17–55. We care for one another, love one another and draw support from one another. I get just as much back as I give!
Q: What’s the most comical experience you’ve had on a Moms’ Night Out?
Once a group of writer friends and I had gathered to go to a writers’ conference. We all came to town early to eat dinner at a very expensive restaurant. We dressed up and enjoyed the exquisite gardens as we walked to the front doors, only to discover it was . . . closed! We drove around for a while and finally ended up eating at a hole in the wall barbecue pit with picnic tables (inside), red-checkered, plastic table clothes and plastic forks. Not what we had in mind!
Q: Raising kids can be difficult, but there are some funny moments along the way — share one of your funniest memories involving your kids.
I have one from yesterday. We laughed so hard! Our daughter (six) was riding in the back of the car.
Her: “Mom, Dad!” she called out. “Grandma was sweeping the front porch and a black, wet cat leaped out of nowhere and jumped on her!”
Me: “Sweetie, remember we’ve been working about not lying or not telling stories.”
Her: “I saw a cat.”
It’s just a balance to be creative and to be truthful . . . we try to guide our children in both!
Q: How does your husband help out in those moments when you just have to get a break, like the moms in the film Moms’ Night Out? Are there other people in your life you can turn to?
I have the best husband ever! John and I adopted two children from the foster care system, and they came with a variety of issues. On most evenings, he’d take over the kid duty as soon as he got home from work because he knew I’d had a long day. Then on Saturdays he’d load up the three little ones into his car for an “adventure.” I’d enjoy the peace and write during this time. I also have two wonderful babysitters and some great neighbors who I can reach out to for help. Yes, I am blessed! Having a support system is SO important!
Q: This movie and the novel are both very funny and lighthearted, but the day-to-day tasks of being a mother can become overwhelming. What advice do you have for the mom who is feeling completely overcome by her responsibilities?
Remember that God is there for you. You don’t have to do it alone. One of my favorite Scripture verses is Isaiah 40:11, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” God wants to be there for you to guide you and assist you. Turn to Him. Even quick prayers, blubbered by an exhausted mom, make a difference.
Q: What advice would you give to dads about ways they can help alleviate some of the pressures moms feel?
I’d say that when it comes to helping, every little thing makes a difference. When my husband loads the dishwasher I’m so grateful! Also remind them often of their importance. Moms need to hear this most of all.
Q: Where can our audience find out more about the movie and book editions of Moms’ Night Out?
Posted 6/17/14 at 8:25 AM | Audra Jennings
When your heart is filled with a lust for vengeance, is there any room left for love? In her latest book, The Heart’s Pursuit (Zondervan/May 20, 2014/ISBN: 978-0310259275/$15.99), author Robin Lee Hatcher examines issues of the heart that all of us will eventually face: forgiveness and the desire for justice — or even retribution. The Heart’s Pursuit tells the story of two desperate characters who are hot on the trail of the villains who have harmed them. Silver Matlock is a Colorado beauty determined to track down the rogue who left her at the altar and stole the last remnant of her father’s fortune. Bounty hunter Jared Newman, as rugged as the West itself, seeks out the murderer who destroyed his family. Like so many who have been hurt by others, Silver and Jared must face the answer to this question: Will vengeance and payback heal their wounded hearts?
Q: What is the spiritual thread that runs through The Heart’s Pursuit?
Forgiveness, justice and trust.
Q: Both of the main characters are out for revenge against people who have taken something from them. Why do you think readers will be able to relate to those feelings?
Everybody has been hurt by someone in their lives. Some wounds go very deep, others stay on the surface, but they still affect the heart.
Part of my nature is a strong desire for justice to be done. Not only justice for myself but for the world around me. But there is a fine line between fighting for justice and the yearning for revenge upon those who are unjust. We must learn to leave such matters to God, to let go of the hurts and forgive and to trust God with the outcome.
Q: We can all think of people who have wronged us. What is the effect of anger and bitterness on our hearts and lives?
It is my opinion that most often we hold onto anger and bitterness because we have the mistaken notion that it will somehow hurt the person who hurt us. The truth is, that person probably isn’t giving us a single thought and may not care at all about what they’ve done. Holding onto anger and bitterness isn’t hurting them; it’s hurting us. Anger and bitterness are like a poison spreading in our hearts, and they will consume us if we don’t let go. Forgiveness isn’t really about the person who offended us at all. It is about us. We are made better, healthier and cleaner when we forgive those who have wronged us.
Q: Have you ever desired revenge? If so, how did you move beyond that desire into forgiveness?
Yes, I have been so hurt that I wanted revenge and found it difficult to forgive. I began a practice many years ago that has helped me overcome and truly forgive. I begin by writing on an index card: “Today, I forgive ‘So-and-So’ as an act of will and obedience to Christ.” Then I will date the card, sign my name and place the card in my Bible. Whenever old feelings of hurt rise up in me, I pull out that card and remind myself (and the devil who is whispering lies in my ear) that I have forgiven that person.
Next, I pray for the person who has wronged and hurt me. I ask God to save her if she doesn’t know the Lord. Then I ask God to bless her socks off. I ask for her to have financial success and success in her career and in her relationships and in any other way I can think of. I have found it impossible to harbor resentment in my heart when I am praying for blessings to be poured out on someone.
An important distinction to remember is that we are not required to feel forgiveness. We are simply commanded to forgive as an act of obedience. We forgive because God tells us to. We forgive because He first forgave us. I have found that when I forgive in obedience, the feeling of forgiveness eventually follows.
Q: Some of your contemporary releases draw on your personal experiences. Do you relate to the characters in a historical novel like The Heart’s Pursuit? If so, which ones and why?
There are pieces of me in every character I create. Or at least there are pieces of emotions and circumstances I have learned empathy for through my observations of life. And whatever God is teaching me when I am writing a novel will surely find its way into that story in one form or another. Because of that, yes, I do relate to my characters, whether the setting is historical or contemporary.
Q: Silver, your leading lady, has come to believe she isn’t deserving of love. What would you say to the person who feels like God could never love them?
I have seen others take on a hurt that makes them believe themselves undeserving of love, and I’ve witnessed the harm that can cause through the years. Believing God cannot love us almost always stems from thinking we have to earn His love — that there is something we must do or give up that will make us a better person and therefore worthy of being loved. It is a lie straight from the devil’s lips. Reject it! My advice for someone struggling with this belief, and a reminder to myself when I know I’ve tripped up in my walk with Christ, is for us to get into the Bible and discover for ourselves all He has said about His love for us.
Q: At first, Silver and Jared are united in their mission for justice — but the dishonesty that exists between them creates a wedge. What lessons about honesty are there for real-life relationships?
Secrets and dishonesty are enemies of any intimate relationship, whether its nature is platonic, romantic or familial. We must learn to tell the truth in love. That is never easy. In 2003, Randy Alcorn released a wonderful book called The Grace and Truth Paradox that made a huge impact on me when it comes to speaking both truth and grace into any situation. I highly recommend it.
Q: Every generation that experiences war is changed by what they go through. How did the Civil War, which ended eight years before this book opens, impact your characters’ families? In what ways were the protagonists still carrying the weight of those experiences?
The war itself took away Jared’s brothers and may have played a part in the evil that befell the remaining family members after the war. Silver’s father chose to take his family to a place where they could start over, leaving behind the sadness of so many missing young men in their former hometown.
We all carry the weight of what has happened to us in our lives. Our experiences shape us, sometimes strengthening our character and sometimes weakening it. The same is true for Jared and Silver.
Q: What do you want your readers to take away with them after they’ve closed the covers of The Heart’s Pursuit?
My first hope, as always, is that my readers will have been entertained for a few hours and that they will have come to love my characters and perhaps even miss them when the book is over. Secondly, I hope they will have taken one step closer to God because of something one of my characters learned over the course of the story.