Food for the Soul

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Posted 5/26/16 at 1:42 PM | Audra Jennings

Dig through the darkness to find the light

Part 2 of an interview with Nika Maples,
Author of Hunting Hope


Hope is not an accident. Sometimes it has to be hunted, and hunting it takes courage.

Hope hunters know how to excavate hope from hardship. There is dirt underneath their fingernails and sweat on their shirts. They rake through the rubble of an unwanted situation, digging into difficult circumstances because they have come to expect that adversity will produce good. They believe that light always triumphs over darkness. They have learned to walk through winter with their eyes on spring.

Nika Maples, the author of Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light
(Worthy Inspired), became a hope hunter after suffering a massive brainstem stroke that left her quadriplegic in her twenties. Doctors warned that she had as little as 48 hours to live, and-if she lived at all-she would never walk or talk again. There was no hope on the horizon. So Nika started to hunt for it. Today, she not only walks, but she speaks to audiences everywhere about the power of hunting hope when a situation appears hopeless. She says hope remains camouflaged in the daily mundane. If we are not looking for it, we will miss it, though it is right before our eyes. FULL POST

Posted 5/23/16 at 11:10 AM | Audra Jennings

The staggering statistics on childhood sexual abuse

Part 1 of an interview with Andrew J. Schmutzer
Co-Author of Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors


From Penn State to the Catholic Church scandal, stories of sexual abuse are covered in the national media, but news reports do not reveal all the facts of how prevalent abuse is among males. "The standard statistic is that one in six boys is sexually abused before the age of 18 (1in6.org). However, Male Survivor recently reported one in four men has been sexually abused," Andrew J. Schmutzer, co-author of Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors (Kregel Publications), explains. "One thing to understand about these statistics is that they are largely based on self-reporting, so they have been historically hard to come by. As specialists know, men don't readily talk about their abuse." FULL POST

Posted 5/20/16 at 12:59 PM | Audra Jennings

Abuse survivor leads women on a journey to heal

Part 1 of an interview with Crystal M. Sutherland,
Author of Journey to Heal


A woman who was sexually abused as a child can wrestle her whole adult life with questions such as, Am I worthless? How can I move past the hurt? Do I matter to God? This internal turbulence can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Crystal M. Sutherland's own experiences as a child led her to write Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Kregel Publications).

Q: Your book, Journey to Heal, addresses an especially sensitive subject. How prevalent is child sexual abuse in our country?

The prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in our country is one of the best-kept secrets of our culture today. It is a crime perpetuated in silence and secrecy, and often children who may attempt to tell an adult are ignored, dismissed or misunderstood. Based on recorded cases, it is estimated there are more than 42 million adult survivors of sexual abuse today. Current statistics also reveal approximately one in 10 children will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. That breaks down to about one in seven girls and one in 25 boys. These statistics are based solely on reported cases; it is very difficult to obtain accurate data because this crime is severely underreported. From the research I have read, this appears to be especially true among boys. FULL POST

Posted 5/19/16 at 12:42 PM | Audra Jennings

Hope isn't always easy to find --- sometimes you have to hunt

Part 1 of an interview with Nika Maples,
Author of Hunting Hope


Finding hope in dark times is not an accident. Sometimes it has to be hunted, and that chase takes great strength. Author Nika Maples wants to help others find the fierce bravery required to excavate hope from hardship with her new book, Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light (Worthy Inspired).

Maples warns those who have the opportunity to observe Hope Hunters not to be fooled by the light in their eyes and the smile on their faces. If bystanders look a little closer, they'll notice the dirt under their fingernails and the sweat on their shirts. These pursuers of light rake through the rubble of unwanted situations and dig into difficult circumstances, because they know enough about God to make them confident adversity can produce good in their lives. This is not the delusion of the eternal optimist. The Hope Hunter acknowledges things are as bad as they seem, but they understand they can still search for --- and find --- God in the midst of it all. FULL POST

Posted 5/17/16 at 4:01 PM | Audra Jennings

God's grand narrative --- the only "true myth"

God’s grand narrative — the only ‘true myth’
Author’s debut novel is rich in Christian theology and symbolic imagery

Seattle: At some point everyone will have a moment where they simply know something is missing in their lives. Attempts to fill, ignore or dull this void are never successful and only end up leaving them exhausted, confused and alone. These are themes explored by author Erik Guzman in his debut release, The Seed: A True Myth (New Growth Press/May 16, 2016/ISBN: 978-1942572794/$17.99). This parable uses symbolism and vivid imagery to help readers think critically about the great lengths they go to in order to avoid the pain of living in a broken world, rather than accepting the peace and freedom the Gospel offers. FULL POST

Posted 5/16/16 at 11:35 AM | Audra Jennings

Drop the mask and get real

Drop the mask and get real
Steve Brown calls readers to live honestly and embrace God’s shocking grace

It’s easy to imagine high-powered executives and egotistical politicians having hidden agendas. What may not be so simple to accept is that deep down, all have a secret plan for getting themselves from where they are to where they want to be. As author and radio host Steve Brown has written in Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart (New Growth Press/May 16, 2016/ISBN: 978-1942572657/ $17.99), people, especially Christians, wear disguises to make it easier to accomplish these concealed plans. These masks might be religion, appearance or power, and the pressure of keeping it all together can be overwhelming. For most, though, it will be a cold day in a hot place before they are fully honest with anyone else about their fears, struggles and sins. FULL POST

Posted 5/3/16 at 1:08 PM | Audra Jennings

Christ is the anchor in all of life’s storms

Male and female stereotypes have always existed. World War II brought major changes to the status quo in America as necessity challenged traditional male/female roles and opportunities. Sarah Sundin delves into these dynamics in the second installment in her Waves of Freedom series, Anchor in the Storm (Revell/May 3, 2016/ ISBN: 978-0800723439/$14.99). As the needs of a nation brought millions of women into the workforce, some for the first time, ladies were suddenly finding new strengths and facing new tests, including Lillian Avery.

For plucky Lillian, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston, and although her road isn’t easy, she has high hopes for success. Her boss isn’t thrilled about hiring a woman, and Lillian has a visible physical disability that causes some people to assume mistakenly she might be weak. Sundin drew from her own life for this aspect of Anchor in the Storm’s plotline. “My oldest son was born missing his left arm below the elbow,” she reveals. “He’s never let it stop him. He’s a mechanical engineer and a black belt in karate. I’m thankful he was born in modern times when we have more enlightened views of disabilities.” FULL POST

Posted 4/29/16 at 11:50 AM | Audra Jennings

Cynthia Ruchti calls readers to redefine who and whose they are when life hits a sour note.

An interview with Cynthia Ruchti, Author of Song of Silence

What’s the first thing mentioned when introducing two strangers? Typically, one person introduces another by saying the individual’s name, followed by his or her vocation. “This is my friend, Bob. He’s an airplane mechanic.” “I’d like you to meet Sally. She’s a triathlete.” It’s natural for people to derive their sense of self from what they do, not who they are. In her latest novel, Song of Silence (Abingdon Press/April 5, 2016/ISBN: 9781426791499/$14.99), award-winning author Cynthia Ruchti reminds us God takes a different approach when it comes to identity and explores what happens when identity can no longer be linked to an occupation or life’s passion.

In Song of Silence, readers meet Lucy and Charlie Tuttle who, despite their differences, can agree on one thing: They’re committed to each other for life. The trouble is neither of them expected life to look like this. Charlie retired early, but Lucy has been completely devoted to her long-term career as a music educator in a small Midwestern school . . . until the day she has no choice. Now what? How will she survive the gravest disappointment she can imagine when “who she is” is silenced? FULL POST

Posted 4/28/16 at 12:22 PM | Audra Jennings

The First Step to Healing is Giving Abuse a Name

From Penn State to the Catholic Church scandal, stories of sexual abuse are covered in the national media, but news reports do not reveal all the facts of how prevalent abuse is among males. “The standard statistic is that one in six boys is sexually abused before the age of 18 (1in6.org). However, Male Survivor recently reported one in four men has been sexually abused,” Andrew J. Schmutzer, co-author of Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors (Kregel Publications/April 27, 2016/ISBN: 978-0825444005/$14.99), explains. “One thing to understand about these statistics is that they are largely based on self-reporting, so they have been historically hard to come by. As specialists know, men don’t readily talk about their abuse.” FULL POST

Posted 4/27/16 at 12:03 PM | Audra Jennings

A path of healing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

A woman who was sexually abused as a child can wrestle her whole adult life with questions such as, Am I worthless? How can I move past the hurt? Do I matter to God? This internal turbulence can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Crystal M. Sutherland’s own experiences as a child led her to write Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Kregel Publications/April 27, 2016/ISBN: 978-0825444012/$14.99).

With more than 42 million victims (both male and female) of child sexual abuse in the U.S. alone, the need for healing is enormous. While there is no simple formula for those seeking recovery, Sutherland believes the Bible contains essential guidance for moving toward peace. Journey to Heal is a practical and comprehensive study of seven steps specifically for female survivors who want to progress from simply coping with life to living abundantly. Calling her book “a road map to recovery,” Sutherland invites readers to process their stories, reject shame and discover God’s love for them.

Many of the lessons Sutherland shares in Journey to Heal were learned in the trenches of her own prayerful and painful recovery. Abused by a stepfather for several years as a child, she lived in a broken state. Acting out promiscuously in high school, she soon found herself in the midst of a teen pregnancy. Even after she married, started a family and reconnected with her childhood faith, she still attempted to mask her pain through food, shopping and staying busy all the time. After years of hiding, her world started to fall apart. She finally responded to God’s call to seek him and his word and found her path to healing. “As the Lord brought restoration into my life, I sensed He was encouraging me to share my journey with others so they too could experience the freedom His love brings,” she reveals. “Telling my story is a small part of this book. I share it so my readers know I am a friend who understands what they are going through.” FULL POST

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