Food for the Soul

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Posted 10/1/15 at 11:06 AM | Audra Jennings

What Friendship Looks Like in the Midst of Difficult Circumstances

Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts and Jill Buteyn
David C Cook

While your heart might be in the right place, it is not unusual to feel uncomfortable or insecure when you’re around loved ones who are in the midst of a trial. The temptation to back away can be strong; after all, couldn’t they use some space? You don’t want to be a burden. Is that ever the right choice though? Is there something both of you can gain from friendship in the midst of suffering?

Bestselling author Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn answer those questions in the new book Just Show Up: the Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together (David C Cook/ October 1, 2015/ISBN: 978-1434709530/$15.99). With grace and practical advice, the friends wrote about what relationships look like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry and even Tippetts’ battle with cancer, which she tragically lost on March 22, 2015.

As Tippetts walked the road of cancer, learning to receive offers of help from friends — and the vulnerability that comes along with it — was sometimes an uncomfortable journey for everyone involved. Yet, she discovered an astounding depth of relationship with women who wanted to walk with her and her family, including Buteyn, who became one of her closest friends. “We all have tough times, but there’s a beauty that comes in doing the really hard stuff together,” Buteyn reveals. “When I look back on my time with Kara, I see a lot of tears, prayers and pain, but I also see grace and even peace. It was beautiful to walk with her, even though it hurt so much. It still hurts. But I would choose her all over again.”

Buteyn faced her own challenges as she reached out to Tippetts and her family. Maintaining friendships can be difficult even on the best of days, and troubles compound relational challenges. For Buteyn, it was hard at times to know what to say or do, and there were moments when her words sounded awkward and hollow. Along the way, though, Tippetts and Buteyn both discovered ways to meet each other in the “hard.” The book offers insightful chapters full of wisdom about the gift of silence, the art of receiving and the beauty of just showing up.

“Presence is so important in suffering because sometimes that’s really all we have to offer,” Buteyn admits. “We don’t have the right words or there isn’t anything we can do to help. Sometimes it is just about being there.” In addition to sage advice born from experience, Just Show Up offers practical tips, such as what clichés to avoid, why it’s important to be specific in your offers of help and how to avoid making your friend’s pain all about you.

Whether readers want to be present with someone going through a difficult time or find inspiration for pursuing friendship in a new way, this eloquent book reveals the power found in being present during the everyday as well as the terribly hard — and reaching out to others, no matter what.

Learn more about the life of Kara Tippetts at For more information about Jill Lynn Buteyn and Just Show Up at and on Facebook (JillLynnAuthor), Pinterest (JillLynnAuthor), Instagram (JillLynnAuthor) and Twitter (@JillLynnAuthor).

About the Authors

Kara Tippetts and Jill Buteyn, authors of Just Show Up
Kara Tippetts and Jill Buteyn

The late Kara Tippetts was the author of The Hardest Peace and blogged faithfully at Cancer was only a part of Tippett’s story. Her real fight was to truly live while facing a crushing reality. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Learn more about the life of Kara Tippetts at or follow the site on Facebook (mundanefaithfulness).

Jill Lynn Buteyn is the author of Falling for Texas, an inspirational novel, and a recipient of the ACFW Genesis Award for her fiction work. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Buteyn lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children.

Learn more about Jill Lynn Buteyne and Just Show Up at and on Facebook (JillLynnAuthor), Pinterest (JillLynnAuthor), Instagram (JillLynnAuthor) and Twitter (@JillLynnAuthor).

Posted 9/30/15 at 1:52 PM | Audra Jennings

Catherine DeVries Helps Preschoolers Memorize the Lord's Prayer

An interview with Catherine DeVries,

Author of Let’s Learn about the Lord’s Prayer

Let's Learn about the Lord's Prayer
David C Cook

This fall, David C Cook is launching a new series for toddlers and preschoolers that combines word and song to help young children memorize scripture. The first book in the HeartSmart series, Lets Learn about the Lords Prayer (September 1, 2015/ISBN: 9780781412698/$10.99) by bestselling author Catherine DeVries, not only introduces children to Bible memory, but teaches them about how to pray.

Q: Your new book, Let’s Learn about the Lord’s Prayer,is the first installment in the new HeartSmart series for children. Can you tell us a little bit about the series?

HeartSmart is a Scripture memory series designed to create opportunities for children to fill their hearts with God’s Word. HeartSmart combines key scriptures with songs, giving parents a spiritual formation path for building a strong foundation of faith.

Q: Why did you decide to use the Lord’s Prayer as the first passage of scripture in the series?

I was thinking about what Scripture is generally memorized by children — not just one verse but a complete thought. That led me to the Lord’s Prayer. Not only is it the model Jesus gave us for how to pray, but it also invites us all to talk with God through prayer. God wants to have a relationship with us, and it is important to express that to children early in their faith development. The Lord’s Prayer is often said around the dinner table, so I also wanted to equip parents and grandparents with a natural way to invite children to participate in this tradition at home. Many churches still say the Lord’s Prayer during the service, maybe not every week, but at least a few times during the year. By knowing the Lord’s Prayer, children are also invited to participate in community worship.

Q: Emma, the narrator of your story, could be compared to another little girl popular among pre-schoolers, Dora the Explorer. In what ways are they similar, and what makes Emma unique?

This part of the series is geared toward preschoolers, so I want to offer readers an opportunity to interact with the story and even to be part of the story. When I have observed children, including my own, watching Dora the Explorer, I love how engaged they are with her. They actually do talk to her through the screen and answer her questions. It’s all part of their beautiful, creative imaginations at work. To them, talking to a screen is natural. My hope is that talking to a book also feels natural. Every time parents sit down with their child and this book, the reading experience will be slightly different, depending on the child’s response to Emma’s questions. This interactive nature of the text is true for all the board books in the series, and children will get to meet a different child in each book.

Q: Why did you choose to have Emma teach the Lord’s Prayer to her toy bear, Blueberry, instead of Emma learning it herself?

Preschool children learn through play and, more specifically, play scripts. Have you ever heard a child speaking to her stuffed animals and dolls or to his dinosaurs and legos? These times are not only fun, but they are times when children process information. They “try on” various things they have heard and start to synthesize what they are learning. It seemed natural that Emma would involve her teddy bear and want to teach it something important to her. Again, fostering that emotional connection to the Lord through relationship is so important. That’s why Emma says that Blueberry reminds her of another friend she has: Jesus.

Q: At the end of the book there is a code to download a song that accompanies the book. Please tell us more about the song.

This song is the exact wording of the Lord’s Prayer that readers will see in the book. It is a custom song created by talented musicians and sung by a mother and young child. The music is simple to follow and is a beautiful expression of this prayer. If you go to the HeartSmart website at, you will be able to download the song that goes along with each book in the series. You’ll also find updates about the series and what I’ve been up to as the author.

Q: How do songs help children learn scripture?

Songs engage the audio part of a child’s brain. Rather than just hearing the words, children will remember them better when the words are put to song. As an example, whenever my children needed to learn a new phone number or new house address, I created a simple song to help them remember it. Then we could have fun practicing it together. Thinking back to my childhood, I still remember many Bible-based songs from church: “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he!” “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” “Jesus loves me, this I know.” I could go on for a while! Not only do I still know these songs, but I also have a positive, emotional connection to them. I believe we want the same for our children.

Q: Why is it important for our spiritual life and communication with God to understand the Lord’s Prayer?

We need to remember God wants to talk with us. He wants us to share what’s going on in our lives with Him because He wants a relationship with us as His children, no matter what our age. The Lord’s Prayer is structured in such a way to teach us to honor the Lord first, to thank Him for who He is. Once we have acknowledged that, we bring our requests to the Lord — providing for our needs and helping us steer clear from temptation. With thankful hearts, we once again honor the Lord by remembering He is all-powerful and we want to follow Him in all we do.

Q: In what ways have you emphasized prayer in your own home while raising your children?

We try to have meals together as much as possible. Before we eat, we take turns praying. One person prays for us all on that day. On Sundays, we always pray the Lord’s Prayer together as a family. Brad and I have also encouraged our children to pray at night before bed. We started with, “Now I lay me, down to sleep,” but then added on blessings to our friends and family members. When the kids were old enough, we invited them to talk to the Lord about the day. We also have a tradition of praying in the car before leaving on a big trip. We ask for the Lord’s presence with us and that He will give us safe travels and protection. One other thing we do is pray whenever we see an ambulance or Life Alert helicopter. We live near a hospital, so this is a regular occurrence as we drive around town doing errands. I just love how my kids initiate it now when they see these visual reminders to pray for others.

Catherine DeVries, author of Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer
Catherine DeVries

Q: Do you think parents place enough emphasis on their children’s spiritual formation?

I think parents aren’t always sure where to begin or what to do. We can no longer assume parents have had a Christian upbringing in the church, have a good grasp of Scripture and the stories from the Bible or even feel comfortable praying. Yet we still get a strong sense they desire to give their child a spiritual foundation. The HeartSmart series is meant to come alongside parents or grandparents with encouragement and support. The beautiful thing about these types of books is the adults are learning right along with the children.

Q: We’ve all heard — and perhaps even chuckled — at the cute prayers of little children. Do you think God hears and answers their prayers?

I have learned so much about faith through the eyes of my children, as well as other children. Jesus talks about how strong the faith of a child is and how we all should seek that depth of faith (Isaiah 11:6; Matthew 19:4). Yes, I know in my heart that God hears every prayer. It is up to Him how He chooses to respond to prayers. He might not answer in the way we expect Him to, but we can rest in knowing He knows our heart, hears us and is with us every step of the way through life’s journey. He wants what is best for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and we can trust in that.

Q: Did you read a lot with your parents when you were little? What do you remember about those moments?

My mother read to me, my older sister and younger brother. I remember “seeing” The Chronicles of Narnia unfold in my imagination and being on the Minnesota prairie with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family on the frontier. It was a special time when we gathered together, pushed pause on life and got swept away to another place. The power of reading is amazing, and when we attach faith messages and learning to it, we are talking about a lifetime faith that begins to develop and grow in the lives of children.

Q: What upcoming releases in the HeartSmart series can readers look forward to?

We will have a book coming out every fall and spring for the foreseeable future:

  • Let’s Learn about Psalm 23 (preschoolers have a playdate with Jackson at his grandparents’ farm) will be out in spring 2016.
  • Let’s Learn about the Armor of God (preschoolers have a playdate with twins Olivia and Jacob at the beach) follows in fall 2016
  • God’s Blessings for Baby for new parents is scheduled for spring 2017.
  • The main HeartSmart Bible Storybook for children ages 4-8 will be coming out in the fall of 2017. It features all the characters from the board books, now a few years older, introducing each Bible story with a scenario from their own lives. They tell the story from their perspective, then join up with a parent, grandparent or mentor to tie it together with a memorable Scripture passage. There will be songs, too!

By the time the entire series is launched, we will have books and songs for parents of newborns and toddlers, preschoolers, all the way to children age 8.

For more information on the HeartSmart series,

Posted 9/25/15 at 3:40 PM |

Popular radio host reveals lifetime of pain in new book

Popular radio show host Shellie Nichol has released her first book entitled Destination: Hope –A Guide Through Life’s Unexpected Journeys (Clovercroft Publishing/STL Distribution). Nichol opens up about the most difficult moments of her life including being physically and mentally abused as a child, molested, bullied, going through two divorces, fighting cervical cancer, losing a child, suffering from an eating disorder, experiencing debilitating panic and anxiety, ADD, OCD, and a doctor pronouncing a death sentence for her first-born child. But though the trials have at times felt “Job-like,” Nichol admits she has also found the secret to surviving -- hope.

“The one thing I can tell people who go through terrible circumstances is never allow despair inside your soul, no matter how hard it is to resist,” says Nichol.” “Look at your situation as a chance to grow. View it as an incredible movie -- thrilling, dramatic, and a real nail-biter --that in the end will be inspirational because you and God did it together and you will be an amazing overcomer.” FULL POST

Posted 9/24/15 at 11:00 AM | Audra Jennings

A Family Separated Not Just by Time, But by Centuries

Lynne Gentry takes readers to third-century Carthage for a thrilling time-travel adventure in Valley of Decision(Howard Books/September 22, 2015/ISBN: 978-1476746418/$14.99), the explosive conclusion to the Carthage Chronicles. In her latest release, Gentry brings her thorough research of the Plague of Cyprian to life as she examines the power of family connections.

Thirteen years ago, Dr. Lisbeth Hasting made an impossible decision to leave third-century Carthage and her husband, Cyprian, behind for good to protect their daughter Maggie. Summoning all her courage, she struggled to move on with life and keep her promise to Cyprian to keep their little girl out of harm’s way. FULL POST

Posted 9/23/15 at 1:56 PM | Audra Jennings

Adventures in Odyssey Rewards Those Impacting the Lives of Children

The John Avery Whittaker Award
Adventures in Odyssey

Most people can think of one or two figures whose love and life example had a great impact on the formation of their spiritual foundation. It might be a coach, a Sunday school teacher or a parent or grandparent. Whatever the role, it’s hard to put a value on the investment these people make on a daily basis. In an effort to bring honor to these countless, quiet heroes, Adventures in Odyssey announces the John Avery Whitaker Award. Named after Odyssey’s resident leader and the namesake of Odyssey’s most famous attraction, Whit’s End, the award will be bestowed annually on one deserving mentor.

Like the Adventures in Odyssey character John Avery Whitaker, or “Whit” as he’s known by fans of the show, the person should be someone who is passionate about innovatively teaching children the truths expressed in the Bible. Those who create Adventures in Odyssey know that while Whit might be a fictitious character, there are thousands of real people just like him. “Our hope is that by bringing those people into the light, others will be inspired to follow their example,” says Dave Arnold, the executive producer of Adventures in Odyssey. “If we can spur mature believers in Christ to mentor and influence a generation being barraged with messages of compromise, we can turn the tide and encourage revival in our youth.”

Nominations are being accepted now through October 31 for the “Whits” out there in the world. Beginning on November 1, one nominee will be selected daily and awarded with a prize package including Adventures in Odyssey's latest album, Taking the Plunge, and a DVD of the movie Beyond the Mask. One grand prize winner will be chosen and announced on November 20. This worthy recipient will receive more than $500 worth of Focus on the Family resources, including an Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) membership. The OAC offers 24/7, on-the-go access to more than 800 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey, as well as a new, members-only episode every month. It is a safe, fun environment where the whole family can explore, create and imagine, all while learning biblical truth.

Nominations can be submitted via this form, or the information can be emailed to (See the Official Rules for all the details.)

To learn more about the John Avery Whitaker Award, visit Discover the Odyssey Adventure Club at or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Posted 9/11/15 at 12:31 PM |

How can we better equip churches for the next generation?

E-Squared Media Network will host a free, one hour webinar on Tuesday, September 15 at 11:00 amPacific/2:00 pm Eastern time called “Effectively Equipping Our Churches.” The seminar will feature several podcasters from the E-Squared Media Network including Dave Murrow, Jana Doughty, Matt Tague, along with special guest, Joel Weldon. The webinar will be live via, Twitter @e2medianetwork, and The webinar is free, but registration is required at

The webinar will include discussions about millennials and the church—are they leaving and are their parents the problem? Worship styles, including using masculine and feminine music/imagery, will be part of the conversation, along with men’s ministry challenges and male vs. female leadership. Additionally, small church vs. mega-church trends and concerns will also be a topic. FULL POST

Posted 9/9/15 at 3:39 PM | Audra Jennings

Intersect: Where Your Story and God’s Story Converge

Part 2 of an interview with Rob Peabody, Executive Producer and Host of

Intersect: Where Your Story and God’s Story Converge

Rob Peabody
Rob Peabody

Intersect: Where Your Story and God’s Story Converge(Kregel Publications/July 27, 2015/$15.99),is a five-week short film resource designed to help Christians engage in a meaningful way about their faith. Starting spiritual conversations with those outside of church is viewed as a worthy, yet arduous and intimidating task. Intersect was created as an easy-to-use resource, perfect for sharing with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family to enter into meaningful conversations.

Intersect features five short films following the journey of individuals as they tell authentic stories of circumstances that have forced them to examine how God might fit into their lives. In this interview, executive producer and host, Rob Peabody, shares more about Intersect and sharing your faith.

Q: Why is it so difficult to start conversations with the people we love about the things that really matter in life?

I think it is so hard because these are the people we need the most love, respect, and validation from. Ironically, the people whose opinions we care about the most are the ones with whom we shy away from having meaningful conversations. I think this is a reactionary response to a fear we may be holding onto: “What if I share this and they disagree? What if they think I’m an idiot? What if they don’t understand? What if they treat me differently because of this conversation?” Sticking your head above the crowd is a frightening move, especially with those who know you best.

Q: How will Intersect help viewers talk to those in their lives who don’t believe in the Gospel? 

We’ve created Intersect in such a way that anyone, regardless of how equipped one does or doesn’t feel, can play the films and facilitate the conversation from the study guide to have a conversation of significance centered on the Gospel. We see Intersect as a “pre-intro to Christianity,” in that it doesn’t start exploring the basic tenants of Christianity, but starts before that, entertaining ideas about God and what He might have to say about universal issues we all face day in and day out. We have seen this work quite well in Western Europe (where Intersect released this past March) and have heard countless stories of skeptics wrestling with the things of God for the first time — all from taking part in Intersect.

Q: Why are trials so important to the development of our character?

Our trials are the things that showcase and develop our character. Trials are accompanied by growth opportunities, and without them in our lives we cease to grow. In my own life, it is the trials and hardships I have had to endure that have made me into who I am today.

In one of the sessions on the DVD entitled “Disappointment,” we meet a friend of mine named James. James experienced an abrupt divorce at a young age only two years into his marriage,. Yet, he says he wouldn’t trade that experience in his life for anything. He tells us it revealed to him so much about his life, his ex-wife’s life and even about marriage itself. It was in the middle of the trial he discovered who he really was and who God truly is. Coming through the trial, James is now forever changed. He’s developed, matured and sees things more clearly, all because he was broken.

I believe only in our brokenness can we turn fully to the unbreakable One who develops our character to be more like His.

Q: How do spiritually healthy people respond to life’s disappointments?

I believe spiritually healthy people bounce back from life’s disappointments. They are resilient because they live for something greater than the thing that is currently disappointing them. Yes, they may go through times of hurt, struggle, sadness and pain, but it will be their faith, their ability to process in a godly way and their trust in Jesus that will pull them through. I think spiritually healthy people are on a journey of viewing God more correctly and getting more of Him in their lives, which in turn reveals more about who they are and the world in which they live.

Intersect by Rob Peabody and Cris Rogers
Kregel Publications
Intersect DVD series, by Rob Peabody and Cris Rogers

Q: How is our ability to trust God impacted by our experiences with people?

Life is all about relationships. We were created for relationships — both with God and with other people. We know that from Scripture. However, the big difference between our relationship with God and other people is that we’ve never seen God. We experience Him, feel His presence at times and may even see Him move supernaturally amongst our relationships, but nonetheless we have never actually seen Him in person — in the flesh. This is where faith comes in. Faith is trusting in something (or someone) you have never seen with your eyes. It’s the assurance and confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.

Therefore, it is our human relationships that paint in our open spaces about our views of God. Our human relationships inform our relationship with God at times because that is what we can see. Sometimes these relationships can become the lens through which we view and interpret God. So if someone you love or trust betrays you, you are likely to view God with the same skepticism and lack of trust. We find this all the time with children. How the authority figures in a child’s life have treated them (both good and bad) will inform their perception of God as they mature. Humans are on one level so simple, yet paradoxically absolutely complex.

Q: What is your ultimate hope for those who complete the Intersect DVD series?

My dream is that Intersect would be used to start conversations of significance centered on the Gospel in a day where it is so easy to remain superficial and safe in the depth of conversation we conduct.

My hope for individuals who complete Intersect is that they would take their next step with Jesus, whatever that may be. For some, that will be contemplating and beginning to explore the things of God for the very first time. For others it will be re-imagining what their relationship with Him could become, and for others still it might be using Intersect to lead others to explore their relationship with God in a new and fresh way.

I also hope Intersect will give those of us in the church a tool to begin sharing our faith with those outside the walls of the church. We’ve done all the heavy lifting for you; now all you have to do is push play and be open to having a conversation. My prayer is this would be a tool that helps to empower normal believers to make a difference in someone else’s life as they walk in obedience for the Kingdom of God.

For more information about Rob Peabody, visit, like the Awaken Movement on Facebook (awakenmovement) or follow Rob on Twitter (@AwakenRob and @awakenmovement).

Posted 9/8/15 at 2:31 PM | Audra Jennings

Protecting Your Child From Sexual Abuse

God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb
New Growth Press

It’s perhaps a parent’s greatest fear — that at some point his or her child will become a victim of sexual abuse. The statistics are alarming: Approximately one in five children will become victims by his or her 18th birthday. Authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have responded to parents’ concerns by writing God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies (New Growth Press/September 8, 2015/ISBN: 9781942572305/$14.99), a resource for moms and dads who want to protect and educate their children.

God Made All of Me is a simply told, beautifully illustrated storybook for children between the ages of two and eight that helps parents gently start the conversation about appropriate and inappropriate touch. This topic can cause a lot of questions and curiosity in small children, and if answers are given too hastily or abruptly, children can easily hear the message that they should be ashamed of their bodies. This can fuel confusion, embarrassment and secrecy, often preventing children from recognizing or reporting abuse.

Children need to be able to identify and name their private parts, while understanding God made them special and they are worth protecting. God Made All of Me does this in an age-appropriate way, joining with parents as they seek to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse. With colorful, age-appropriate illustrations by Trish Mahoney, the book beautifully conveys the clear message that God made every part of the human body and every part is, therefore, good.

Parents of young children themselves, the Holcombs regularly counsel victims of sexual abuse and are profoundly aware of the dangers kids face. They know a child is more likely to be abused by someone he or she knows than a stranger; 34% of assailants are family members, and 58% are acquaintances. “It is important to teach kids how to say ‘stop,’ ‘all done,’ and ‘no more,’” the Holcombs stress. “You can reiterate this by stopping immediately when your children express they are all done with the hugging or tickling. Your reaction demonstrates they have control over their bodies. If there are family members who have a hard time understanding, explain you’re helping your children understand their ability to say no to unwanted touch. For example, if your children do not want to kiss Grandpa, let them give a high five or handshake instead.”

Allowing moms and dads to approach this topic gently, God Made All of Me will help facilitate open conversations within the family. It will be a critical tool in every parent’s hand as they seek to fulfill their important role of shielding their children from harm. “We want to remind parents some people are looking to prey on our children. We have a duty to protect and prepare them for the world and to fight for them,” the Holcombs explain. “By talking with our kids candidly (and in developmentally appropriate ways) about their bodies, we are setting up safeguards around them.”

About the Authors

Justin Holcomb
Justin Holcomb

Justin Holcomb is a minister and a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has a PhD in theology from Emory University and serves on the boards of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments). He has authored, co-authored or edited more than 10 books.

Lindsey Holcomb, author of God Made All of Me
Lindsey Holcomb

Lindsey Holcomb is a former case manager at a sexual assault crisis center and a domestic violence shelter. She earned a Master of Public Health from Touro University.

Together, they helped cofound REST, and they conduct a variety of training seminars on how to prevent, recognize and respond to child, sexual and domestic abuse. They have also written a number of books together, including Is It My Fault? (2014)and Rid of My Disgrace (2011).

The Holcombs live in Orlando and are parents of two young children, for whom they wrote this book.

For more information about Justin and Lindsey Holcomb or God Made All of Me, visit You can also follow Justin on Facebook (justinholcomb) or follow the Holcombs on Twitter (@justinholcomb and @lindseyholcomb).

Posted 9/4/15 at 2:28 PM | Audra Jennings

Sarah Sundin Launches New World War II Series Rich with Historical Detail

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin
Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

With the first book in her new Waves of Freedom series, Through Waters Deep (Revell/August 4, 2015/ISBN:978-0800723422 /$14.99), Sarah Sundin transports readers back to the 1940s — a fascinating time when ordinary men learned they could do extraordinary things, and women explored new roles while still remaining ladies. It’s an era Sundin enjoys living in while she weaves her stories. “When we read of how people in the 1940s prevailed in times of uncertainty, fear and danger, it gives us hope we can prevail today, no matter what we face,” Sundin explains.

Described by Booklist as “an optimal hybrid of 1940s crime and romance,” Through Waters Deep takes readers through the tense months right before the U.S. entered World War II. There they’ll encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love.

Q: Through Waters Deep is the first book in your new Waves of Freedom series. What’s it like for you to start a new series?

Both exciting and scary. I love getting to know a whole new cast of characters, but it takes time to get to know them. I love the challenge of a new setting, but the research can be daunting. I loved stretching myself by writing a mystery plotline for the first time, but sometimes I felt I’d gotten in over my head. And I never know what my readers will think of the new series . . . kind of like trying a completely new haircut and waiting for your friends’ reactions!

Q: You are known for finding inspiration for elements of your story plots in Scripture. Which verse did you choose for Through Waters Deep?

Ironically, the verse I originally chose didn’t really play into the book after all. However, verses emerged when I wrote the story. For Mary Stirling, who struggles with a fear of attention, her theme verse is Matthew 5:15-16: “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Mary learns that using your gifts isn’t prideful when you do it to call attention to God, not to yourself.

Q: Why do you like setting stories during the World War II period?

It’s a fascinating era filled with drama, action and romance. Ordinary men learned they could do extraordinary things, and women tried new roles while still remaining ladies. When we read of how people in the 1940s prevailed in times of uncertainty and fear and danger, it gives us hope we can prevail today, no matter what we face.

Q: Do you know anyone who served in the Navy during World War II? Did you draw from real stories as you wrote Through Waters Deep?

My grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the U.S. Navy in World War II. He was quite the storyteller! His wartime stories were medical in nature, and I adapted one of them in my Wings of the Nightingale series. For the Waves of Freedom, I read several accounts by U.S. naval officers who served on destroyers.

Q: What fact did you find most interesting as you did research for this book?

I found something new and interesting almost every day! The novel itself was inspired by the little-known fact that six American ships, including a destroyer, were sunk by German U-boats in 1941 — before Pearl Harbor! Even those sinkings and the deaths of more than 100 sailors and merchant marines didn’t provoke the United States to enter the war.

Q: How does Mary’s fear of attention hold her back? Do you have past or present fears that have held you back? How did you overcome?

Mary’s fear of attention causes her to hold back in many areas of her life. She wears inconspicuous clothes, chooses not to assert herself on the job and refuses to use her gift of singing. Only when she releases that fear can she fully use the gifts God gave her — and she even chooses to wear red!

Personally, I’m a cautious person by nature, so I’ve had to rely on the Lord to help me overcome my fears and do what He asks of me. Whenever I do, it’s such a thrill that over time it’s become easier and easier to step out in faith — and now it’s a joy!

Q: Jim has always floated with the current, and he struggles to be bold when necessary. Do you tend to be bold, or do you “go with the flow”?

Like Jim, I’m a people pleaser who loves peace and lack of conflict, and I usually try to smooth things over between people. However, unlike Jim, I’ve always known where I want to go in life, and I follow that path with determination (although some might call it stubbornness).

Q: How do events that happen in our childhood shape our present character? Is it possible to overcome these past events and forge a new future?

I find it interesting what a powerful effect childhood events can have on our characters, shaping our fears and notions — often subconsciously. To overcome the negative effects, we have to recognize them, find the source, combat lies with truth and choose to live in the truth. Often it needs to be a daily choice. I’m thankful God gives us the wisdom, comfort, truth and power to do this!

Q: Have you ever been on board a WWII-era ship? What did you think?

I have! In the past few years, I’ve explored an aircraft carrier, two battleships, two destroyers, a submarine and a Liberty ship! I’m always impressed by the sparse living and close quarters. No wasted space, no unnecessary equipment or personal items, and everyone had to do their part. As I learned about these ships and what they did, visiting the ships meant even more to me. I got a bit too excited when I had the opportunity to climb inside a 5-inch gunmount, visit an ammunition handling room and see a real Mark 37 fire control computer. I’ve never been normal.

Q: The U.S. was united immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, but earlier that year a different cultural temperature existed. How does this time remind you of today’s world?

While we all look back nostalgically at the unity in America during World War II, the States were anything but united in 1941. Interventionists were alarmed by the situation in Europe and wanted to join the war effort before Britain fell. Meanwhile, the isolationists felt the best way to save America was by staying out of yet another European war. They argued bitterly, with lots of name-calling. The stark division and the angry debate remind me too much of the nation in 2015. I pray it won’t take another Pearl Harbor to bring us back together again.

Q: What significance does the imagery of sailing have in Through Waters Deep?

When I was in the early stages of planning this novel, I was designing Mary’s apartment and decided she’d have a painting of a sailboat on the wall — something a Midwestern girl might buy when moving to New England. It appealed to Mary for the sense of boldness and movement, surging forward despite the wind and the current. I realized this captured the heart of the story: two characters who need to learn to hoist their sails and fly!

Sarah Sundin, author of Through Waters Deep
Sarah Sundin

Q: This book contains an element of mystery; is it hard to create that kind of suspense?

What challenged me most was the complexity of a mystery plot. About a dozen suspects and investigators, acting, reacting to each other, implicating others, telling the truth, telling lies, planting clues. My head swam. So I made a chart. That’s what I do when I get confused. I had a column for each character and described what they were doing or thinking in each scene and between scenes. It helped me so much.

Q: What message do you hope readers take away from reading Through Waters Deep?

Hoist your sails! Jim Avery is an easygoing, “float with the current” man who learns the hard way that floating can carry him onto the rocks. And Mary Stirling keeps her sails bound tight in false humility, fearful of becoming prideful, fearful of falling. Jim and Mary learn, “We have to hoist our sails. We have to let the Lord fill them. Then we have to resist the current if necessary to stay the course. . . . Then we can fly with the wind.”

However, I’ve learned readers often take away a completely different message than what’s written, and that’s wonderful! I’m in awe of how God can take a simple story and use one element to touch a reader’s heart in a personal and unique way. So I hope readers take away what the Lord wants them to take away.

Q: What can readers anticipate as you continue the Waves of Freedom series?

In the second book, Anchor in the Storm (Revell, summer 2016), plucky pharmacist Lillian Avery and high-society naval officer Arch Vandenberg find danger from U-boats, black market drug rings — and love. I’m currently writing the third novel (Revell, winter 2017). In it, the last thing no-nonsense naval officer Dan Avery wants to see on his radar is fun-loving glamour girl Quintessa Beaumont — even if she has joined the WAVES.

To keep up with Sarah Sundin, visit, become a fan on Facebook (SarahSundinAuthor) or follow her on Twitter (@sarahsundin) and Pinterest (sarahsundin).

Posted 9/2/15 at 1:47 PM |

New Fiction Novel Inspired by Modern-day Miracle

Pastor, counselor and author Bruce S. Campbell has penned a new novel that was inspired by a modern-day miracle. The Beginning: Prelude to the Apocalypse (Carpenter’s Son Publishing/STL Distribution) came about after Campbell’s church had begun a season of miraculous healings.

“I was the pastor of a church and we had a woman who was dying of cancer,” says Campbell, who received his Master’s Degree in Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “The doctors had given her little hope and basically, sent her home to die. We laid hands on her and prayed for a complete recovery. A couple of weeks later, she was told there was an experimental treatment so she went to the hospital for tests. That day her son called me in tears, and I thought she had passed away. What he told me was that the doctors could no longer locate the cancer at all. It was completely gone. This sent shock waves through our church, and we began to see God move in miraculous ways. My associate pastor and I began to talk about how the New Testament was coming alive before us, and we began to discuss biblical characters. We started talking about the two witnesses in Revelation – who they would be, what they would say, will they be just regular guys – and that was the germination of the idea behind the book. What will the two witnesses tell us when they arrive? And are they already here?” FULL POST

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