Food for the Soul

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Posted 5/31/18 at 4:38 PM |

Sales of a new book about father/daughter relationships will aid children around the world

In just five years since it began, the Novitas Foundation and its team have provided aid and humanitarian relief in a number of third-world countries, most recently providing over 500,000 meals to children’s hospitals in three northern provinces of North Korea following a devastating typhoon. And while some charities spend a significant amount of money on overhead, Novitas’ financials are easier to reconcile since 100% of the public donations it receives goes directly to project expenses to serve people in need. So as its founder and International Executive Director, Shad Arnold releases his first book entitled “Claire’s Dad: How I Earned the Title”, it was a natural choice for him to commit a portion of the book sales as well as his speaking engagements towards on-going projects for Novitas. But the book itself was never really planned in the first place. It was just the musings of a dad reminiscing 20 years of life with his only daughter.

“After moving Claire into the dorm at college and attending orientation, all of the emotions, thoughts, dreams and more of our life together just landed on my heart,” says Arnold, “so I decided to record them by writing a few things down. One thought became a chapter, then another, and another. A few days later, my wife Janelle said ‘Maybe this is a book.’” FULL POST

Posted 5/14/18 at 11:55 AM |

Why 3-time Emmy winning sportscaster didn't want to be another statistic

James (J.B.) Brown hopes his story inspires others to change their lives for the better



Q: You have recently lost a lot of weight. What was the motivation behind that?
A: Solomon was the wisest and richest man in the world, but when he got off track from God, he realized everything apart from God was meaningless. I want my life to be one of significance. That was my main motivating factor behind losing 84 pounds over the past year or so. 3 John 1:2 says “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” Before I took the first supplement or went to my first nutritional counseling, I was inspired that Dr. Ray, who founded Nutrimost, was basing his program on biblical principles. My aim was to be healthy in order to be a person of significance and to make a difference in people’s lives. I feel like the Energizer Bunny now after losing so much weight and I continue to do the right things to keep my body healthy. I wanted to get physically healthy, of course, but my overriding motivation was to be a vessel for the Lord’s use. FULL POST

Posted 3/14/18 at 11:02 PM |

New book offers interactive features to encourage community prayer

A recent Barna Research study showed that 94% of American adults who have prayed at least one time in the last three months most often pray by themselves. Only 4% say they pray collectively with a church or with other people. According to Jim Maxim, co-author of the new book “21 Days of Breakthrough Prayer: The Power of Agreement”, this statistic is why so many churches are failing.

“Church leaders are in a difficult position in today’s culture,” says Maxim. “Sometimes it can be challenging to listen to voices who tell them to try this latest tactic or implement this new method in order to reach more people. Marketing has its place, but sometimes we neglect the one thing that can truly change everything—corporate prayer. We want to help people see the value of that again, and offer them resources that can help move them in that direction.”

Co-written with Maxim’s wife, Cathy, and Pastor Daniel Henderson, “21 Days of Breakthrough Prayer” offers daily written devotionals each day after which readers are invited to go to www.Acts413.net/21days or www.Strategicrenewal.com/21days where they can pray along with the pre-recorded prayers that correspond with that day's devotion and author. Maxim and his wife began the Acts 413 ministry a few years ago to bring pastors and church leaders together for corporate prayer in various cities in the U.S. Their prayer gatherings have featured well-known pastors and speakers such as Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle, but the lasting effects of the gatherings have sparked many local pastors to begin praying for each other on a regular basis. FULL POST

Posted 3/12/18 at 11:33 AM |

Hard rock band takes on softer tone while getting real about recent violent acts on new EP

When husband and wife team Ammee Pearl and Jay Huzil formed the band SWEETEVERAFTER nine years ago, their sound was distinctively hard rock, earning them a nomination for Metal Song of the Year at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. But in their third release, the new EP entitled “Adoration Project,” the music shifts to softer tones while their lyrics take recent tragic events head on.

“I wrote this song after the Boston bombing,” says Pearl. “Since that time so many other senseless acts of violence have happened — including the school shooting that just happened in Florida — that sometimes now I feel like we accept it. It has become our new normal. We have become numb to the horror and sadness of it all. So, I found myself sitting at my piano in the studio and I began to write, asking God why, and crying out to Him in deep sorrow and reflection. I believe that in the depth of our souls exists the capacity for great good and great evil. To see this choice played out on the world’s stage causes us to turn inward and examine ourselves. The song ‘Desperate for Love’ is the cry of my heart and a reflection on the brokenness of the world. It is a prayer that the God of the Universe would come and breathe new life into all these broken places.” FULL POST

Posted 2/20/18 at 9:25 AM |

Telly Award winner and top 40 Billboard artist releases new project from Lifeway’s Producer of the Year

After a six year absence on the national radio charts, top 40 Billboard singer and Telly Award winning artist, Jennifer Shaw, has released a new full-length recording project entitled “Nothing to Fear”, produced by Lifeway’s Producer of the Year, Paul Marino. Though Shaw’s last album spawned a Telly Award-winning music video and songs used by organizations such as disability ministry Joni and Friends, as well as Remember Nhu, a worldwide organization that fights child sex slavery, Shaw waited until now to record songs that reflect the multiple changes in her life and family.

Beyond her musical success, Shaw is a sought-after speaker and author, and a long-time advocate for children. Shaw’s parenting skills were put to the test early on when her youngest child, son Toby, was diagnosed with a severe case of Sensory Processing Disorder. Shaw chronicled her family’s journey in the critically-acclaimed book “Life Not Typical: How Special Needs Parenting Changed my Faith and my Song”, which is now used in the Resource Library of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. Shaw’s involvement with children’s organizations and her multi-year partnership with Compassion International took her to orphanages around the world where she learned that children over the age of 3 are rarely adopted, and their chances were even lower if they had medical issues. Armed with that knowledge, the Shaws realized they couldn’t help every child, but they could help somebody. So in the past 18 months, Shaw along with her husband and their three biological children have adopted three Chinese children with medical issues, ages 7 to 11. FULL POST

Posted 11/20/17 at 12:28 PM | Audra Jennings

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of a classic American novel

Part 1 of an interview with Nancy LeSourd,
Publisher of Gilead Publishing’s Evergreen Farm imprint
about Catherine Marshall’s Christy

Watch the book trailer!

Gilead Publishing and Evergreen Farm
"Christy" by Catherine Marshall

Some stories are evergreen, their themes and lessons standing the test of time and connecting with readers generation after generation. One such book is Catherine Marshall’s Christy, originally released in 1967 and now celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of a new hardcover edition and its first-ever release as an e-book from Evergreen Farm, an imprint of Gilead Publishing. Based on Marshall’s mother’s life, the story of Christy is one of determination, devotion and commitment to making a difference in the world.

Marshall’s best seller tells the story of nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston who moves from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1912 and finds herself in Cutter Gap, a Smoky Mountain community that feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions and century-old traditions. Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, and some of the Cutter Gap residents see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged by trial and tragedy, and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove.

Q: How many copies of Christy have been sold in the last 50 years since its original release?

Exact figures are hard to estimate as the way sales are tracked has changed throughout the years. The book has also been re-released in various formats from different publishers. However, with the information we do have, we believe more than 10 million copies have been sold.

Q: Readers throughout time have always had a strong emotional connection to Christy. What is it about Christy that resonates with young women especially?

The story of Christy has endured because of its timeless themes. A young person, barely 19, is inspired to contribute her time and talents to make a difference. Her idealistic ideas clash head-on with those who see her as an outsider, a do-gooder and a meddler. Christy has to learn how to come alongside people she wants to “help” and learn how to care — really care — for them, one person at a time.

Throughout the years, we have learned of many people inspired by the story of Christy who became a teacher or a doctor or who entered public service living among the poor in their communities in the United States or abroad.

Q: In what ways will millennials be able to relate to Christy, a character based on a woman who was born 120 years ago?

There is an entire generation who does not remember the CBS TV series. I gathered our children to watch it every week, but they were two and four when it aired. Today they are 25 and 27. The largest demographic by 2020 will be the millennials. Their choices, passions, investments of time, talent and treasure will impact America economically, politically and socially.

I am particularly excited to introduce this audience to the novel Christy. Christy is a timeless tale of courage, determination and passion — a story very much reflective of millennials today. With their desire to make a difference, ingenuity to create businesses or engage in work that has social impact and rejection of cash donations in favor of offering their time and talents or social enterprise, it is time to introduce them to this amazing young woman, Christy. Christy and other key characters in the novel, such as the doctor and a minister, have to learn how to take who they are and what they have to give and learn to serve a community that challenges them in ways they cannot anticipate.

How these key characters approach trying to make a difference — all very unique and different — are everyman and everywoman who desires to do the same in their own community today. The wonderful thing about millennials is that they are disrupters; they want to make a difference. The desire to be a change agent often starts in the heart, as did Christy’s desire to come to the mountains to teach children. That inspirational motivation can sometimes flag when met with obstacles, resistance or even hatred. The story of Christy takes on these challenges head-on and does not flinch with depicting the realities of pitting the enthusiastic change agent Christy against resistant, suspicious people in the community. How she navigates her life in the Cove and her passion to make a difference applies to anyone who wants to make a difference in his or her community, business, charity or social enterprise.

Q: What lessons can those who are about to make a life change and enter an unfamiliar world glean from the story of Christy?

In a word, courage. It took a lot of courage for Christy Huddleston to leave everything familiar and comfortable and enter a world different from anything she had experienced before. Her life in the Appalachian Tennessee mountains was a stark contrast to the life she had lived in the city of Asheville, North Carolina. It required courage for her to face opposition and evil. It required courage for her to face her own shortcomings and doubts without running away. She continued to try new methods and ideas.

Catherine Marshall, author of "Christy"

Perseverance is another lesson. Christy learned that change of social injustice and community values is slow and often painful. Changing a community and its way of doing things is usually the result of impacting one life at a time. Learning how to persevere in the midst of discouragement and setbacks is another life lesson demonstrated in Christy’s encounters with the fiercely determined Scottish highlanders in the mountains of Tennessee.

Unexpected joy — it is often when we risk the familiar, launch out into the uncertain future and leave behind what is comfortable and familiar that we encounter unexpected joy. Christy had no idea when she first arrived in the Cove that she would experience unfettered joy with these ragamuffin children, encounter the depths of shared friendship and insights with an unusual mentor or be taught about true beauty and joy in the simplest of things by a mountain woman. She came as the teacher. She came to serve. She came to make a difference. As so often happens when we take these kinds of risks, she found herself the recipient of so much more.

Learn more about the 50th anniversary of Christy plus download a free map of Cutter Gap by visiting www.christybook.com. Readers can also keep up with news on future Evergreen Farm releases via Facebook (@gileadpublishing) and Twitter (@GileadPub).

Posted 11/20/17 at 12:23 PM | Audra Jennings

Ritual, Relationships and Rest

Part 1 of an interview with Melissa Spoelstra,
Author of Total Christmas Makeover

Total Christmas Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra

As Melissa Spoelstra studied the Book of Numbers while writing her Bible study on the topic, she noticed three elements included in the festivities and began thinking about how she could apply them to her personal Christmas celebrations. She shares those revelations with readers in her latest book, Total Christmas Makeover (Abingdon Press). In fact, Spoelstra devotes a section of the book to each of the elements:

  • Ritual: Special activities out of the ordinary routine were planned to help remember what God has done.
  • Relationships: Time spent together preparing special foods, eating, gathering in holy assembly, and explaining traditions to children.
  • Rest: Regular work set aside for planned times of celebration and rest from activity to allow for reflection on God.

“A total Christmas makeover doesn’t mean scrapping all your holiday traditions or adding ten more to your list. Instead, it is a personal time of reflection to evaluate how your Christmas practices align with some biblical concepts of celebration,” explains Spoelstra. “Passover, festivals, and feasts were instituted by God to help His people remember who He is and what He has done. While we have no such specifics given for our celebration of Christ’s birth because it comes from church history rather than biblical mandate, we can glean some important principles about celebration from Scripture.”

Q: Since the Bible doesn’t expressly instruct us to celebrate Christ’s birth, is it OK to mix the more secular elements of Christmas in with the religious aspects of the holiday?

In light of the many holy days set aside in Scripture for the purpose of celebration, I have to believe God loves a good party. Jesus spent a significant time at parties during His ministry on earth. I don’t think every aspect of Christmas has to be hyper-spiritual. Of course, we want to focus on Christ’s humble birth, God’s extravagant love and the sacrifice He made to redeem us. That doesn’t mean we can’t have some rituals that are just for fun. My husband hides our children’s stockings every year since we never had a good place to hang them. They wake up before us on Christmas morning and find a handwritten poem with clues and parameters to start hunting. As they got older he went a little crazy, burying one in a bin underground and another year placing one of them on the roof (clearly without permission from me!). This has no spiritual significance, but it will be one of my children’s favorite memories. Later in the day we will read from Luke and share what Christ has done in our lives, but the morning stocking hunt is just for fun. I’m sure many of you have traditions that aren’t inherently spiritual, but if they aren’t contrary to God’s Word or offensive to Christ’s message, I believe we have a lot of freedom in Christ worth exercising!

Q: As long as you make sure everything you do is Christ-honoring in some way, is there anything wrong with going “all out” for Christmas? Looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, is it OK if you don’t do anything special to observe or celebrate Christmas?

Let’s remember that Christmas isn’t a commanded holy day in the Bible. God did issue consequences for those who refused to celebrate Passover without a good reason (Numbers 9:13), but Christmas is a tradition, not a commanded holiday. I have friends who really go all out. My friend Elizabeth loves Christmas. She has the gift of wonder, and her excitement is contagious. God loves extravagantly. He went all out with an angel song for shepherds. There is nothing wrong with going all out. The danger comes when we lose our focus on Christ and exhaust ourselves with an overwhelmed attitude. Those who choose not to celebrate Christmas citing the commercialization, pagan roots of some traditions or personal reasons aren’t breaking any biblical command either. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. What we need is balance and Holy Spirit leading to manage our time, talents and treasures in a way that honors the God we celebrate at Christmas.

Q: What are some of your family’s favorite traditions? How have they changed throughout the years?

When our children were little, someone shared with me the Jesse Tree project. It includes 25 short devotions with references to pages in the Beginner Bible. The stories begin with creation and end with the cross. The booklet also gave instructions for corresponding ornaments to place on a miniature Christmas tree. We made or bought these ornaments and wrapped them with Christmas paper. Our children enjoyed making many of them since we couldn’t find a fiery furnace or Ten Commandments scroll in stores! We used shrinky dinks, construction paper, pipe cleaners and a variety of craft materials. Each year I would wrap them all individually and put the corresponding number of the day it was to be placed on the tree on the package. Each night before bed we would do the reading, and the kids would take turns opening the ornament and hanging it on a small tree.

Once our children got into middle school, our bedtime routines changed with sports and youth group activities, and we found ourselves needing to catch up doing two or three ornaments every few days. Eventually we stopped doing the Jesse Tree devotions and ornaments and assigned each child an evening to share their own devotion on a Christmas topic of their choosing (star, angels, wise man, shepherds, etc.). They had to include a fun activity (game or craft) as well as a reading from Scripture and discussion questions. While I love to reminiscence our sweet nightly December times when they were little with the Jesse Tree, I also enjoy our new traditions with college- and high-school-aged kids.

Q: During the busyness of the holiday season, in what ways can we focus on relationships and valuing others?

If we aren’t careful, people can become scenery and machinery. The waitress who brings our coffee. The postal worker who brings the mail. These are real people with real stories. When we break through the reverie of our own to-do lists and start to see them, we can ask questions. We can begin to pray for them. We might even get the opportunity to share about Christ with words or show them Christ with generosity. We want to become “there you are” kind of people rather than “here I am” Christians. This will require us to be intentional in focusing on people rather than tasks during a busy time of year.

Melissa Spoelstra, author of Total Christmas Makeover

Q: The third section of Total Christmas Makeover focuses on rest. How are we supposed to work rest into December? Isn’t rest what January is for?

Rest requires preparation. It means we must leave some margin in our schedules and finances. We must block off chunks of time and guard them as an important commitment. Biblical celebration always required Sabbath. No regular work was to be done. This has never been as challenging as it is now with email on our phone and notifications galore. To take a true break from ordinary work, it might mean locking up devices or just checking them a little less frequently. Rest isn’t watching more television. It means giving our minds, bodies and souls a chance to stop and leave space to hear from God. True rest produces no work, but it does leave us refreshed and reflective.

Q: In what ways can rest mean different things for different people?

Introverts and extroverts often find different types of things restful. As an introvert, I like to rest alone. I enjoy reading, napping, sitting outside or going for a stroll. My extroverted husband still likes a good nap and some of these activities as well, but he feels rested talking with friends or family. He enjoys a family game or a walk with others. Being with people replenishes him while being alone recharges me. Each person must discover the type of things that help them feel rested and connected to God. At Christmas, I enjoy sitting on my couch each evening just looking at the lights on my Christmas tree. I think about my day and my God and take a few minutes to savor what Jesus has done in my life.

For more about Melissa Spoelstra and Total Family Makeover, visit melissaspoelstra.com. You can also follow her on Facebook (AuthorMelissaSpolestra) and Twitter (@MelSpoelstra).

Posted 11/16/17 at 11:48 AM | Audra Jennings

Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy

Part 1 of an Interview with Becky Baudouin,
Author of Cancer, Faith and Unexpected Joy

Kregel Publications
Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy by Becky Baudouin

“I’ve taught you how to live; now I want to teach you how to die. You don’t have to be afraid.” When Becky Baudouin’s mother spoke those words to her, they weren't said lightly. Her mother had an inoperable tumor—and after months of treatment, there was no hope for a longer life. There was, however, assurance of everlasting life. In Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy: What My Mother Taught Me About How to Live and How to Die (Kregel Publications/September 26, 2017), Baudouin (pronounced Beau-dwen) shares the invaluable wisdom imparted by her mother during her final days.

Q: Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy are insights into dying your mother shared with you following her cancer diagnosis. Can you tell us about the relationship you had with your mom? What was she like when you were growing up?

My mom was very relational and fun. There are five kids in our family, and she was very fulfilled being a stay-at-home mom. She felt it was her highest calling in life. She worked various side jobs as I was growing up to help pay for extras, but I knew being a mom was her first job; she was happy with that. Even though our family life was busy and hectic, I just remember her always being there. She loved and accepted me unconditionally — I didn’t have to earn it, and she was always proud of me and let me know it.

I struggled a lot with anxiety growing up, especially in school, and she was very compassionate and understanding of my struggle. She created a sense of safety and security for me because of her unconditional love and acceptance, so when I was with her I felt peaceful and relaxed. She didn’t push me — I was pushed enough at school — but rather she gave me the space to be my true self. She was the best example to me of what it looked like to live out her faith and live in community with other people. Her faith in Christ was at the center of how she lived and the way she loved others.

Q: When your mother was diagnosed with cancer, what prognosis did the doctor give her? What did the doctor add after answering the medical questions your family had?

Mom’s pulmonologist, Dr. Kraker, told us her cancer was incurable and inoperable. Treatment would hopefully extend her life and give her a bit more time with her family, but the type of cancer she had would spread. There was no hope of her surviving.

However, he did offer a different kind of hope. He asked Mom if she was a person of faith. She answered, “Oh, yes! I have a deep faith in God, and I believe in the power of prayer.” We had not yet been able to process or accept what the doctor had just told us, and at this point, I think Mom was holding on to the hope she would be healed miraculously through prayer and faith. Dr. Kraker told us, “If you read even a little bit of the Bible, you will see God tells us we will have troubles in this life. But He tells us over and over again not to be afraid. He promises no matter what happens, He will never leave us. He will help us through all of our trials, and He gives us the assurance of eternity — the promise of Heaven after this life is over.” I think he was encouraging my mom and our family to put our faith in God and in the promises of His presence, His help, and Heaven, rather than in a desired outcome. His words helped to set the tone for how we processed this difficult news and how Mom approached her diagnosis.

Q: What was the first decision you made when you learned your mother had lung cancer?

I decided to rearrange my priorities so I could show up and be fully present with my mom during her illness. My husband, Bernie and I had been volunteers in our church’s marriage ministry for more than 10 years, but I immediately knew I need to step out and take a break. I knew I needed to pull back from some of the groups and activities I was in so I would have the energy and time to take care of myself and my family and to take frequent trips to Michigan to be with my mom. I realized I had limited time and resources, and I drastically simplified my commitments.

During that season, I didn’t volunteer at my daughters’ schools and extra-curricular activities, and some people didn’t really understand. I just had to say no to some of those things, and I didn’t worry about trying to explain this to people who didn’t really know me or what I was going through. I took some time off from work, and I missed some things with my kids. However, I knew I would never regret the time I spent with my mom. I knew it was a season that wouldn’t last forever. I also reached out and asked people for help. Friends brought meals over when I was out of town, and our kids spent lots of time at their friends’ houses. I didn’t try or pretend like I could get through this alone or keep juggling everything I had been doing before Mom got sick.

Q: What role did your mom’s faith play during her months of treatment?

We all prayed for Mom to be healed, and she believed she would get well. One night during one of our phone conversations, though, she told me, “The way I see it, either way I’m in a win-win situation. Do you know what I mean?” I thought I understood, but I asked her to explain. “Well, if I am healed of this cancer, then I win more time with my family. If I die, then I win eternity in Heaven with my Savior. Either way I win.”

I saw her faith was in God and not in a particular outcome. I saw she was trusting God no matter what. I think her faith in God just continued to grow deeper throughout the course of her treatments, and it enabled her to surrender and accept the reality of what was happening.

Becky Baudouin, author of Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy

Q: Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy is written as a series of journal entries. Was there a reason you decided to document this time, or was journaling something you had always done?

I have always kept journals. Writing is and always has been one of the ways I process what is happening and what I am learning. Sometimes I can’t even process something that happens until I write about it. During my mom’s illness, I had a strong sense I needed to write things down. I wanted to be able to remember things she said and did and what I was feeling and to share these things with my daughters.

Q: How did each of your daughters process the news about their grandmother differently? Why did you choose to be open about your grief with them rather than shield them from what you were feeling?

My eldest daughter, Kate, was very mature and compassionate toward me. She could see how hard the idea of losing my mom was for me and was sensitive to that. My middle daughter, Claire, was very quiet and didn’t want to talk about it a lot. She is not as much of a verbal processor, and I realized it’s OK for us to process differently. My youngest daughter, Brenna, was very distraught and upset about the news. She was afraid her grandma was going to die and talked about it to me often. She had a lot of fears and sadness.

I chose to be open with my children about my grief because, for one thing, I couldn’t hide it. It was just so heavy and present with me, I couldn’t keep it from them. I also saw value in letting them walk with me, letting them observe how I dealt with my strong emotions of sadness and fear. My mom was teaching me how our faith is an anchor during these storms of life, and I wanted to do the same for my daughters. They saw me hold on to Jesus during this time, and I think they learned the value in grieving well. I remember Brenna wrote me a note one day, telling me I looked beautiful when I cried because she could see my heart. She was seven years old and very open and tender-hearted. She connected with me in my grief in a profound way.

Q: What was the last lesson your mom taught you?

Surrender. My mom taught me what it looks like to surrender, especially when things turn out differently than we had hoped. She accepted what was happening, even though we had prayed for something different. She entrusted herself to the One who is all-loving and wise and trusted in His plan. This posture of surrender brought a deep, abiding sense of peace leading up to her final moments on this earth. She was deeply at peace and taught us when we surrender to God, we really don’t need to be afraid. He is completely trustworthy.

Q: Even though cancer plays a major part in your book, isn’t there something everyone facing trials can take away from reading Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy?

Absolutely. I think the commonality and place of connection is when we find ourselves facing something out of our control, a problem or trial no one can fix. A sickness no doctor, no treatment and no amount of money can fix. A loss or tragedy that cannot be reversed. From a human perspective, these are hopeless situations with circumstances that cannot be changed. Yet there is hope of another kind. We have our faith as an anchor, and God promises His presence and help in every difficult trial we face. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. This is true hope — not that our circumstances will change, but that God will get us through those circumstances.

Learn more at www.beckybaudouin.com. She is also active on Facebook (Becky Baudouin), Twitter (@beckybaudouin) and Instagram (beckybaudouin).

Posted 11/16/17 at 11:39 AM | Audra Jennings

When past events affect present situations

Part 2 of an interview with Kim Vogel Sawyer,
Author of Bringing Maggie Home

Read part 1 here.

WaterBrook Press
Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

In Bringing Maggie Home (WaterBrook), award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer introduces readers to three generations of women whose lives have been shaped by a 70-year-old unsolved mystery.

Hazel DeFord was just 10 years old when her younger sister Maggie vanished while they were picking blackberries one afternoon. However, her guilt over the incident has shaped her entire life, particularly in her relationship with her daughter Diane. Hazel’s inexplicable eccentricities, unexplained overprotectiveness and constant paranoia drove a wedge between the two women.

When Diane became a parent, she was determined not to imitate the close hold her mother held on her. In fact, she gave her daughter, Meghan, such free rein that Meghan sometimes questioned whether her mother really loved her. Though neither woman had a good relationship with their own mother, Meghan has built a cherished relationship with her aging grandmother who lavishes her with attention and affection.

Will the three women ever find a way to mend their tattered relationships?

Q: Why do past events affect present situations? How can we make sure we aren’t allowing our pasts to influence our future negatively?

Past events remain embedded in our memories and impact the way we view the future. Sometimes life lessons lead us to make better decisions, and sometimes they send us into hiding for fear of being hurt again. It’s wise to take inventory of your actions and reactions now and then, to explore if what you’re doing/saying/feeling is building you (and others) up or bringing you down. We can’t always rely on our own judgment on this, though, so it’s good to have one or two people you trust to give you honest observations . . . and to listen to them. I also suggest digging into God’s Word. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, so if fear, uncertainty or any other negative emotion has control, He wants to offer peace and discernment in its stead. Seek Him.

Q: There are things people turn to in order to numb the pain of the past and escape their problems. Why are these comforts only temporary?

EVERYTHING in this life is temporal; only our relationship with God through Jesus’s sacrifice at Calvary is ETERNAL. Thus, seeking comfort, joy or satisfaction from any other source is a waste of time and energy. Sure, drugs or alcohol will temporarily mask the pain; obtaining the latest gadget or adding more money to our bank account will give us a rush of pleasure. However, those effects quickly diminish, leaving us needing a bigger binge, a larger acquisition, a better whatever-it-is we’re grabbing for. In the end, they all leave us empty. Nothing fills us and satisfies the way the hope of heaven can, and that is found when we become a child of God.

Q: Diane believed God orchestrated certain events in a way to bring the three generations together. Do you believe God plans our pathways or uses the paths we create to bring us to Him?

I believe God makes good plans for His children (see Jeremiah 29:11 and Ephesians 2:10). I also believe He gives us free will — salvation is a gift we can accept or reject — so we can either seek and follow His path or carve our own pathway. However, it’s His will all should find Him (see 2 Peter 3:9), so even when we’ve gone running off on our own, our route doesn’t catch Him by surprise. He can use those circumstances to grow us in faith and work good in our lives. That’s the wonder of God — nothing is wasted. So, in answer to the question . . . both.

Q: What message do you hope readers take away from reading Bringing Maggie Home?

I hope readers will come away with a fresh realization it is never too late to restore broken relationships. God is in the mending business! He’s the Great Healer. Whether the scars are emotional or spiritual, He wants us to be whole so we can trust Him to bring us to healing when we place ourselves in His hands and let Him lead.

Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of Bringing Maggie Home

Q: Can you offer us a tease about your next release?

I’d love to. In March of 2018, I’m returning to “prairie romance” with Beneath a Prairie Moon. It’s a major twist on the mail-order bride story:

Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. However, when she is cast from the social registers due to her father's illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined — tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose uncle was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the “little city gal” in their midst. As time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won't bring happiness?

I hope readers will enjoy this often humorous, sometimes touching story that brings two very different worlds together in a way only God can orchestrate.

Learn more about Sawyer and her books at www.kimvogelsawyer.com, on Facebook (KimVogelSawyer.Author.Speaker) or by following her on Twitter (KimVogelSawyer).

Posted 11/15/17 at 5:32 PM | Audra Jennings

Catherine Marshall’s Christy celebrates its 50th anniversary

A new edition of the classic story of determination and devotion to be released

Gilead Publishing and Evergreen Farm
"Christy" by Catherine Marshall

Some stories are evergreen, their themes and lessons standing the test of time and connecting with readers generation after generation. One such book is Catherine Marshall’s Christy (Evergreen Farm, an imprint of Gilead Publishing/October 17, 2017/ ISBN 9781683701262/$24.99), originally released in 1967 and now celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of a new hardcover edition and its first-ever release as an e-book. Based on Marshall’s mother’s life, the story of Christy is one of determination, devotion and commitment to making a difference in the world.

Marshall’s best seller tells the story of nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston who moves from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1912 and finds herself in Cutter Gap, a Smoky Mountain community that feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions and century-old traditions. Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, and some of the Cutter Gap residents see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged by trial and tragedy, and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove.

Christy landed on the New York Times list on November 5, 1967. Since then, more than 10 million copies have been sold worldwide, and the book blazed a trail for the new Christian fiction genre. In 1994, more families were introduced to the beloved character, Christy, and to the works of Marshall when the story inspired a CBS television movie pilot starring Kellie Martin that was so well received, it became a TV series.

“The story of Christy has endured because of its timeless themes. A young person, barely 19, is inspired to contribute her time and talents to make a difference,” states Nancy LeSourd, Evergreen Farm’s publisher and spokesperson for the Marshall-LeSourd family. “Christy is a tale of courage, determination, and passion. Christy and other key characters in the novel have to learn how to take who they are, and what they have to give, and serve a community that challenges them in ways they cannot anticipate. Even though the story took place 100 years ago, these key characters’ approaches to making a difference is not unlike the Millennial generation today.”

In conjunction with the bestselling book’s Golden Anniversary, the e-book will be available for the first time. Readers can purchase the digital edition through online retailers, and libraries can now include the digital book in their OverDrive collection. Its re-release will introduce a new generation of readers to the story that has delighted millions and inspired many authors in the Christian genre. Christy will also mark the first release under Gilead Publishing’s Evergreen Farm imprint, specializing in books written by both Catherine Marshall and Dr. Peter Marshall.

“There is a whole generation of readers who aren’t familiar with Christy, and we want to introduce them to her story,” explains Dan Balow, CEO and Publisher of Gilead Publishing. “Our intention was to create a book to be read, not placed in a shelf as a keepsake, so readers won’t find commemorative features. The book being available in digital format for the first time is an avenue of reaching a vast new audience.”

The Christy Awards™, the industry's premiere award program for recognizing excellence in Christian fiction, was named in honor of the book. This award promotes the power of story written from a Christian worldview in nine categories. This year’s The Christy Awards™ will be awarded November 8, 2017, in Nashville in association with The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s (ECPA) Publishing University (PubU) and The Art of Writing conference.

Learn more about the 50th anniversary of Christy plus download a free map of Cutter Gap by visiting www.christybook.com. Readers can also keep up with news on future Evergreen Farm releases via Facebook (@gileadpublishing) and Twitter (@GileadPub).

About the Author

Catherine Marshall, author of "Christy"

Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), the New York Times best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel Christy. Based on the life of her mother, Christy captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Marshall probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders.

She also shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate during World War II, in A Man Called Peter. The movie version, an immediate box-office hit, was nominated for an Academy Award. A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Marshall married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of Guideposts. The writing team collaborated often at Evergreen Farm on Christy and 17 other books.

A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Marshall’s enduring career spanned four decades and six continents and reached more than 30 million readers.

About the Spokesperson

Nancy LeSourd is the daughter-in-law of Catherine Marshall and spokesperson for the Marshall-LeSourd family. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, during the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s, where she learned first-hand as a teenager the impact that a young person can have on history. She taught history in middle school and high school before becoming a lawyer and has more than 30 years of experience as an intellectual property attorney, helping nonprofit organizations maximize their publishing assets.

LeSourd also serves as publisher for Evergreen Farm, an imprint of Gilead Publishing. Nancy and her husband, Jeff, live at Evergreen Farm in Lincoln, Virginia, and have two delightful grown children.

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