Audra Jennings is a publicist with Litfuse Publicity Group.
Posted 3/25/15 at 4:57 PM | Audra Jennings
Helo Matzelle thought her relationship with God was as good as it could get. As a busy stay-at-home mom and devoted wife, she would have described her life as beautiful. Then, one Friday afternoon in 2011, her life changed. In her new book, Halo Found Hope: A Memoir (Dog Ear Publishing/December 11, 2014/ISBN: 9781457531330/ $16.95), Matzelle shares how her life went from planning ahead for the weekend to relearning basic skills after being diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. What’s most remarkable is not what she endured physically, but how she grew spiritually.
Matzelle says when she looks back, she should have paid more attention to the physical symptoms: the strange voices in her head, like she was remembering movie lines. The metallic taste in her mouth. The ringing in her ears. But those symptoms were easily chalked up to the stress of life or the effects of spending too much time in a building with freshly painted walls. However, what started as a routine MRI for her ear revealed Matzelle’s symptoms signaled a more serious problem. “After hearing the terrifying news that I had a golf ball-sized tumor on my brain, my mind began to race,” she admits. “I thought, ‘Why me, God?’ I wanted to make this nightmare go away, but God is our refuge and strength and ever-present help in trouble.”
In this personal diary-turned-memoir, Halo Found Hope, Matzelle details how her recovery from surgery was only supposed to entail six days in the hospital, but things took a turn for the worse in the operating room. Matzelle’s brain tumor was one in two million: Because of the way it was structured, the removal caused intense brain swelling, and several hours later, she became unresponsive. Doctors put her into a drug-induced coma, but life-threatening complications persisted. When she finally awoke after three weeks in the ICU, this mom learned she was facing months of intense rehabilitation, and instead of car-pooling and caring for her family, she would be learning how to function again on the most basic of levels. What would her new normal look like?
Matzelle admits trusting God wasn’t always easy. “Over and over again, I’d ask God, ‘Will I walk, talk, eat, and think again? My strength is wearing thin. I’m afraid,’” she reveals. “God reached down and asked, ‘Helo, do you trust me? Remember, I promised you I’d never leave you.’ Now that is one amazing love.”
Helo doesn’t want her story just to be one of survival; despite her remaining physical challenges, she is passionate about spreading the message that no matter what others are facing and wherever they are, God is right there with them and will equip them to be brave.
About the Author
Helouise “Halo” Matzelle was born in the city of Delft, Holland. Three months after her birth, Helo immigrated to the United States with her parents. Helo graduated from the University of Washington where she met her best friend and husband, Rich. Formerly in marketing for a major pharmaceutical company, Helo became a stay-at-home mom after the birth of her daughter, Lauren. Later the Matzelles were blessed with two sons: Jordan and Austin.
Matzelle led a charmed life until receiving a shocking diagnosis in 2011 of a rare brain tumor sitting over the main artery in her brain. She details her painful diagnosis, risky surgery and miraculous recovery in her memoir, Halo Found Hope.
Matzelle’s passion is helping those who face various challenges and afflictions discover where true hope is found. She resides in Redmond, WA, with her husband and their three children.
Posted 3/24/15 at 5:00 PM | Audra Jennings
Part 1 of an interview with Helo Matzelle,
Author of Halo Found Hope
Helo Matzelle thought her relationship with God was as good as it could get. As a busy stay-at-home mom and devoted wife, she would have described her life as beautiful. Then, one Friday afternoon in 2011, her life changed. In her new book, Halo Found Hope: A Memoir, Matzelle shares how her life went from planning ahead for the weekend to relearning basic skills after being diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. What’s most remarkable is not what she endured physically, but how she grew spiritually. FULL POST
Posted 3/17/15 at 2:36 PM | Audra Jennings
An interview with Colleen Coble
Author of the Journey of the Heart series
Colleen Coble’s Journey of the Heart series take readers back to her very first book. Revised to read as a single epic novel, the Journey of the Heart serialization launched in March (2015) with A Heart’s Disguise, and an installment will follow each month through August. In the following interview, Coble shares why this story remains so close to her heart.
Q: What made you want to be a novelist? What really kick-started your career?
I wrote my first story in first grade about a horse that had twin colts. The teacher praised it, and the dream of being a writer was planted. It went underground for a while when I started raising our family, but when my younger brother, Randy, was killed in a freak lightning storm, the dream resurrected.
Q: What inspired the story in Journey of the Heart?
My first book was really a grieving book for Randy. I wanted to write a story about him if he’d lived in the 1800s as he’d always wished. When I wrote the story, it really helped me to come to grips with my grief.
Q: What was it like to write a story that came from such a personal place for you?
It reminded me in many ways that my brother isn't really dead. He’s more alive now in heaven than he’s ever been. And I will see him again. There are always pieces of the author in every story, and these books are a prime example of that! In the first book, Rand comes back from the dead, basically. His family thought he died in the Civil War. Even now, when I reread the part where his family realizes he’s alive, I cry.
Q: How is the new release of the series different from the original?
These books have the amazing touch of my team at HarperCollins Christian Publishing on them. With their suggestions, I've enhanced conflict and characterization and even changed some endings.
Q: What message do you hope readers walk away with after reading the Journey of the Heart series?
We will all have trials in our lives. Trials serve to make us stronger and to point us to the One who is always by our side, no matter what we face!
Posted 3/16/15 at 12:58 PM | Audra Jennings
As special needs parents fight tooth-and-nail for the best life for their child, their mental, emotional and spiritual reserves quickly deplete. Wallin offers replenishment in her book, Get Your Joy Back: Banishing Resentment and Reclaiming Confidence in Your Special Needs Family (Kregel Publications/January 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825443398/$13.99). “I've been married for 16 years to a man with a wicked sense of humor and an Asperger’s diagnosis,” she reveals. “Two of our four daughters have half a dozen medical, developmental and mental health special needs. Daily we try to balance their care with ‘normal’ family stuff like sports, homework and my desire to lock myself in a closet and watch entire seasons of Downton Abbey in a single night.” FULL POST
Posted 3/12/15 at 3:34 PM | Audra Jennings
Part 1 of an interview with Tez Brooks,
In The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce (Kregel/February 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825443602/$14.99), Tez Brooks offers authentic, down-to-earth wisdom from one dad to another. This much-needed guidebook addresses the spiritual and emotional health of fathers as well as their financial and practical arrangements. Using the experience of his own divorce and the real-life stories of other single dads, The Single Dad Detour is a humorous and invaluable companion for single dads at all stages of their journey. FULL POST
Posted 3/3/15 at 2:30 PM | Audra Jennings
It’s difficult enough to live with the consequences of your own decisions, but what do you do when those choices endanger the ones you love? In Twisted Innocence (Zondervan/ February 3, 2015/ISBN: 978-0310332367/ $15.99) beloved suspense author Terri Blackstock weaves a gripping tale of murder, mistaken identity and human frailty.
Q: In Twisted Innocence, you tackle some messy issues in the life of a Christian. Tell us a little about your character Holly, and the challenges she’s facing in this book.
I wanted to tell Holly’s story because she’s my favorite character in the Moonlighters Series. Of the three sisters in the series, Holly has been the most troubled. In the first two books, she’s a taxi driver who has trouble keeping any other job, and she discovers she’s pregnant. She struggles with how to tell her sisters she’s made another mistake and even considers abortion. But she decides to do the hard thing and go through with the pregnancy, despite how it will alter her life. In Twisted Innocence, she has just had the baby and is struggling to change her life when some consequences of her past catch up to her. My hope was any reader who feels God has given up on him or her will relate to Holly’s struggles and see it’s never too late to start over.
Q: Do you think readers will be able to identify with what Holly Cramer, a young woman facing the consequences of her youthful indiscretions, is going through?
I think many readers will identify with Holly. Ever since I wrote the Intervention series, which featured a family dealing with drug abuse, I've heard from many, many people like Holly. I know it gives them hope to see someone who’s made all the wrong choices and still learns God hasn't given up on them. He knows how we’re wired and why we are the way we are, and while there are no excuses for sin, God has made all the provision necessary for us to find forgiveness and salvation. It’s never too late to start over. God sent Jesus so He could wipe our slates clean.
Q: Many people feel as though they’ve done things in their lives “out of order.” Do you think God holds those things against us?
I like to think about the biblical story of the woman at the well and how out of order her life was. Jesus pointed out she’d had five husbands and was living with a sixth. But Jesus chose her to be the one who would take the good news of the Messiah’s arrival to her village. He came that time as a savior, not a judge.
I used to have a pastor who often said churches should send an ambulance, not a firing squad. That’s what Jesus did. He looked at people such as the woman at the well and knew she needed a savior. She had plenty of judges already. He changed her life, and she was never the same after that. She’s now an example of Christ’s redemption that has been told for 2,000 years.
Q: Although Holly thought her party lifestyle wasn’t hurting anyone, she ends up pregnant by a man she hardly knows. What does this teach us about how our decisions can impact the lives of others?
Holly has had many consequences throughout her life — job losses, financial collapse, relationship problems — but nothing has ever shaken her like her pregnancy. When she comes close to aborting her baby, she realizes she has to change. She cleans up her life as she carries her child but never tells the father about his child. When he learns about Lily’s birth, he comes back into her life but brings a world of trouble with him. He’s a suspect in a murder case, and when Holly uses her private investigating skills to help with the investigation, the tables turn and he takes her and the baby hostage. But nothing is as it seems. Is he a killer or a victim? His link to her family’s arch-nemesis creates an even more tangled web.
This story shows the domino effect of our decisions on others’ lives, but it also shows those decisions can be redeemed. God can use even our worst mistakes.
Q: In the first book in the series, Truth Stained Lies, Holly learns she’s pregnant and briefly contemplates abortion. What stops her from making that choice?
Holly values life, and even though she dreads the thought of admitting to her sisters she’s messed up, she can’t make it through the door of the abortion clinic. In Truth Stained Lies, the first book in the series, she sits in the parking lot across from the abortion clinic and tries to convince herself to go in. She finally realizes though this child is real — it’s not a blob of tissue. It has fingers and toes and nerve endings and a brain. She decides to have the baby, even though it’s the most frightening thing she’s ever faced.
Q: What challenges do single mothers face? How were you able to capture her fears and difficulties so realistically?
I was divorced when my children were young, so I was a single mother for a while. It’s so hard to have to do every little thing yourself and be forced to navigate the rocky emotions of motherhood alone.
Q: Holly struggles with self-loathing as she surveys the rubble her life has become. Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like you’d never be able to pick up the pieces?
There have been many times in my life when I felt like I’d never pick up the pieces, but God has always given me the power to do it. One of the themes in my novels is that our crises can turn into blessings. We can feel like our world has crumbled, but ten years down the road when we look back on that time, we can see God’s hand at work. I love writing that theme into my books.
Q: After suffering the consequences of bad decisions, it’s tempting to try and piece together your life by yourself — to get your life on-track by being “good.” Why does this never completely work?
It doesn’t work because we can’t “be good” enough under our own power. We can try to change our behavior for a few days or months, but eventually we stumble and fall. And why should we try to do it alone, when God has offered His spirit to empower us? He is our Helper, and it’s only through His strength we can change our lives in a meaningful, long-term way.
Q: Even after receiving the gift of grace and forgiveness Christ offers, it can be difficult to forgive ourselves. What advice do you have for the person who wants to be truly free from his or her past?
Lamentations 3:23 tells us God’s mercies are new every morning. Think about that. There is nothing we've done that can’t be wiped clean by Christ. I think parents understand this concept. Most of us are eager to forgive our children when they mess up. If they apologize or admit they were wrong, we can get up the next day and start over without dwelling on the bad behavior of the day before. There’s nothing heavier than the weight of sin in our lives. It’s crushing. But what a luxury to know the burden of it can be lifted off of our shoulders if we repent and give it to God.
Q: While Holly’s family is supportive of her, you can tell some are just waiting for her to mess up again. Is there any way to overcome people’s perceptions of us?
It takes time, and true humility means you give the same grace to those skeptical family members as they gave to you. That means you show patience to them when they doubt you, knowing your new life is the only proof you can give them you've truly changed. And you take comfort in the knowledge that God knows your change is real.
Q: You have been a best-selling author of Christian suspense novels since 1994 — but your journey as a writer didn’t start there. What kinds of books did you write before then?
I started my career in the romance market, writing for Harlequin, Silhouette, Dell and HarperCollins.
Q: What happened that led to your decision to write only Christian novels?
I was a Christian when I went into that market, but in the interest of fame and fortune, I began to make compromises. That meant adding content to my books that didn’t reflect my Christian values, and it took its toll on my spiritual life. After thirteen years and thirty-two books, I was miserable. After intense spiritual conviction, I rededicated my life to God and gave Him that last thing I’d been holding back from Him: my career. I left that market, bought back some contracts and turned to the Christian market where I could write books that impacted lives. I had been writing under two other names, so I started over with my real married name, Terri Blackstock. And because I was reading more suspense at the time than romance, I decided to switch genres and bring faith-based suspense novels to the Christian market. The timing was perfect because Christian readers were starving for that kind of book.
Q: Do you feel like you grow spiritually as you develop the characters in your books?
Absolutely. When I’m struggling with something in my life, I have my character struggle with it. It’s a way of taking it and examining it from every angle, and it’s extremely therapeutic. I often find God speaks to me and teaches me as I’m writing through that story. I may not have any answers to my own dilemma when I begin writing, but by the time I get to the end of the book, I have more insight for my own battle. The letters from my readers indicate I’m passing that insight onto them as well. That’s one of those God-things that happens. I’m not crafty enough to engineer that, but God can use anything we give Him to minister to His people.
Q: Your stories address some of the messy issues of life that some may not expect in Christian fiction. Could you share your approach to storytelling?
A long time ago I realized Christianity doesn’t necessarily insulate us from suffering. Christ’s blessings are abundant when we trust Him, but He promised in this world we would have trouble. I like to have my characters ask the hard questions people really ask when they’re in pain, and I put them through serious trials because real people experience trials. I once had a Christian friend who was dying of cancer, and she said, “Christians need to talk about suffering.” She felt so many of us are unprepared for it, and when it comes, it shakes our faith. I hope my stories will give people courage and hope for the trials ahead and that people already in a time of suffering will relate and feel understood. If they can say, “Yes, I’ve thought that same thing,” and see God’s provision for the character, they might recognize it in their own lives.
Q: As readers experience Holly’s journey as a broken woman, trying to piece together the pieces of her tattered life, what do you hope they walk away with?
I want this book to reach anyone who’s ever made bad choices and feels like God is disgusted with him or her. I want readers to come away with the realization that God knows what challenges they’ve had throughout their lives and that He understands what got them to this point. He doesn’t want to dwell on their sins or bad choices. He wants to wipe their slates clean because He has big plans for them. It’s never too late for them to start over. If people close the book inspired to start over with a clean slate and experience the unfathomable love of God for them, then I’ve succeeded.
Watch Terri Blackstock share about Twisted Innocence here.
Posted 3/2/15 at 2:26 PM | Audra Jennings
Wallin strives every day to live out her message for families: that no matter the challenge, in Jesus they can have joy and confidence. Get Your Joy Back is full of biblical insights and practical strategies to help parents recognize and shed the resentments that leave them spiritually, emotionally and socially drained. Wallin sugar-coats nothing but addresses issues with honesty, humor and — above all — hope.Some studies report as many as one out of every four families in the U.S. has a child with a special need. Parenting is stressful even when a child doesn't have a physical, mental or emotional difficulty. One can imagine the stress on special needs families. Laurie Wallin meets these parents right where they are in her new book, Get Your Joy Back: Banishing Resentment and Reclaiming Confidence in Your Special Needs Family (Kregel Publications/January 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825443398/$13.99).
Q: Get Your Joy Back comes from a very personal place for you. Tell us about your family.
I've been married for almost 16 years to a man who’s a tech whiz with a wicked sense of humor and an Asperger’s diagnosis. That keeps us on our toes as parents of special needs kid because their challenges exacerbate his and vice versa. But the loyalty inherent in his wiring has also been an immeasurable gift and stabilizer for me as his partner in our family. We have four daughters, ranging in age from 6 to 13 years old. Two are foster/adopted with a half-dozen medical, developmental and mental health special needs. We daily attempt to balance our pre-teens’ mood disorders (as if pre-teens weren't already moody), therapeutic appointments, communication with teachers and “normal” family stuff like sports, making meals, doing homework, brushing teeth, wiping up spills and my desire to lock myself in a closet and watch entire seasons of Downton Abbey in a single night.
Like most parents reading my book, we wanted to be parents but never sought to parent high-needs children. When we adopted our older two, the papers said the girls were healthy, rambunctious toddlers. Their special needs became apparent throughout the following two years, as did their resourcefulness, emotional depth and tendencies toward art and living-room tickling matches.
Q: You interviewed more than 70 families when writing Get Your Joy Back. What was the most common theme you heard while talking to them?
The most common response is that they felt misunderstood, by family, friends, church, professionals and even their own spouses. Being misunderstood leaves many feeling hopeless because they don’t feel sharing their needs or struggles will even matter.
Q: While you are very open about your struggles, that wasn't the case for the majority of the parents you spoke to. Why do you think they had such a difficult time talking about their issues?
I believe it’s because as Christians we’re trained not to feel bad for too long because if we do, we either 1) don’t have enough faith, 2) didn't pray enough or 3) must be the problem that’s bringing such trouble to our families. Somehow the unspoken doctrine, which many parents mentioned in their survey responses, is that you can struggle in church, just not too loud, too long or in ways we can’t explain away with Christian-isms.
After a while, parents get to a place where they don’t even acknowledge their hard feelings. They convince themselves they’re OK and nothing is too hard because they've grown accustomed to making it sound OK (read: Christian/faithful enough) to people they've tried to talk to before.
Q: You write about a life-changing moment at a conference. What was the topic, and what was said that pierced your heart?
The conference speaker was talking about forgiveness and the idea of Jesus telling Peter to forgive 70 times seven offenses. I suddenly perked up during that workshop and did the math: 490 offenses wasn't that big a number for a mom raising two kids with disabilities that required emotional gymnastics on my part. Every week, I had to restrain them, fix items they’d broken, answer judgmental comments at store checkout lines, explain the girls’ backgrounds to offended moms at playgrounds, miss out on church activities because of their disruptive behaviors and face professionals with unrealistic expectations or disappointed demeanors.
Suddenly, 490 times wasn't much. It made me mad at God, which opened the conversation in which he revealed that 70 times seven meant I needed to forgive COUNTLESS times. No matter what. Because that’s what He’s done for me. My conversation with God about each area of life in which that seemed impossible became the content for this book — a guide for parents like me who want to find freedom from resentment and get their joy back.
Q: You talk in the book about forgiving your child. Have you found that idea to be controversial in any way?
Yes, that’s bothered some people — mostly people who are still struggling with what we were just talking about. But also because the second we let ourselves say what we grieve about our child, we feel guilty for even thinking that. After all, it’s not like our child planned or asked for this or wanted to make our lives hard! We don’t realize that by censoring our emotions, we’re not being more spiritual; we’re being dishonest and short-circuiting the healing God will certainly bring when we take an honest look at the challenges.
Basically, any controversy I've encountered thus far hinges on the fact that typically, as westerners, we don’t understand healthy grieving. It feels so uncontrollable and so undefined . . . like a black hole. When it comes to our kids, that translates to “I don’t want to even THINK about my negative feelings about my child or her condition because then Pandora’s box might open and swallow me whole. My family needs me. I can’t take the risk to fall apart.” That kind of thinking robs us as parents of the joy on the other side of healthy grieving.
Q: You recommend parents not necessarily read Get Your Joy Back straight through, cover-to-cover; what’s the best way to approach the book?
The last thing I want is for parents to feel like they “have to” read this book a certain way. There are already plenty of areas of their life that they “have to” do things. This is FOR THEM, to support parents. So I recommend they read it whatever way supports them most. Perhaps straight through. Perhaps a chapter a week, like a devotional. Perhaps going to the table of contents and picking the chapter that speaks most to their current need and use it like a reference book. Whatever supports them in getting their joy back.
Q: What is the number-one thing you hope Get Your Joy Back does for special needs families?
I hope the book breathes joy and confidence into the deepest, weariest places in their hearts and lives and they leave it feeling recharged and hopeful in relationships at home and beyond.
Posted 2/27/15 at 1:14 PM | Audra Jennings
The saying used to be “father knows best,” but with changing cultural tides, a man’s role in the family has been greatly diminished — especially when it comes to single dads. The divorced father is often portrayed in movies and television as an object of humor, ridicule or pity. Where does that leave real single dads trying to do their best? It can easily make them susceptible to overcompensation or apathy, which is why Tez Brooks has written The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce (Kregel/February 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825443602/$14.99).
Brooks understands how modern single fathers feel all too well. “Divorce was not something my family did, but you can’t make someone love you, and you can’t make someone stay. So although I didn't want a failed marriage, I found myself single again. It was a lonely time for me, but I ran to the Lord to survive,” he explains.
The Single Dad Detour was born out of the difficult and painful lessons Brooks learned along the way. Using the metaphor of a car accident encountered while on a road trip, the book is interactive, with each chapter offering steps to take, questions to consider and suggested scriptures and prayers.
With an honesty and vulnerability that will appeal to men, Brooks admits divorce is ugly and depressing, totaling families and denting parent-child relationships. Without a strong connection to God, it can leave a dad feeling hopeless. “As I interviewed men in my research for The Single Dad Detour, I ran into guys who said they were tempted to be absent,” Brooks admits. “There’s already an expectation from the world that they are going to fail. Coupled with the normal low self-esteem that comes with a failed marriage, a guy can be left feeling like maybe his child would be better off without him in his or her life.”
Study after study discredits this fear and affirms a dad’s critical role. Without him, children are more likely to be involved in crime, promiscuity and other risky behaviors. Through this practical guidebook for the rocky road of single fatherhood, Brooks extends hope and compassion, instills confidence and addresses difficult challenges.
Brooks says his time as a single dad ultimately made him a better father and husband. “The Lord spent those seven years of singleness re-building me into more of what he wanted me to be. My wife, Christine, has always said she would not have been attracted to the kind of man I was before,” Brooks reveals. “I can’t say I blame her, Thankfully, God’s timing is perfect.”
Offering down-to-earth wisdom from one dad to another, Brooks wants fathers to finish The Single Dad Detour filled with the grace to forgive themselves and the courage to be the dad God is calling them to be.
About the author
Tez Brooks has been a writer since 1980. His experience includes serving as editor-in-chief for TODAY magazine, a publication of Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) and as managing editor for The Jesus Film Project. His articles have been published in magazines including Australian Family, Eternity and Worldwide Challenge, among others. Brooks has also authored two other books: Imagine Australia and Somewhere in the Journey.
As a former law enforcement officer, his ability to relate to the everyday man with transparency and humor sets him apart. He is an international speaker and a certified Stephen Minister whose passion is to see husbands and fathers succeed as courageous men of God.
Tez and his wife, Christine, are full-time missionaries who recently returned from living overseas. They have two children together and two adult children from Brooks’ first marriage. They reside in Orlando, where Tez serves as a film writer/producer for The Jesus Film Project.
Posted 2/26/15 at 1:07 PM | Audra Jennings
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than a quarter of a million babies are born to teen moms in the U.S. each year. Best-selling author Tricia Goyer has written Teen Mom: You’re Stronger than You Think (Zondervan/March 3, 2015/ISBN: 978-0310338871/$15.99) because she doesn’t want one of them to fall through the cracks of the culture.
Everything changes the day these young girls discover they’re going to be moms, and the pressures they’re under can be crushing. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports teen moms are more likely to drop out of high school and nearly half of them live below the poverty line.
Tricia Goyer understands. Born to a single mom, Tricia found herself pregnant at 17, and she remembers what it felt like to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. “My boyfriend was out of the picture, and I faced raising a child alone with little education, no money and maybe, according to the world, little hope for my future,” Goyer admits. “Yet, I am not a statistic. And you know why I’m not a statistic? Because God doesn’t do them.”
Goyer has gone on to be an award-winning author and popular speaker. She’s also been the coordinator of a teen MOPS group for more than 12 years and has cheered on many young mothers — from all walks of life — through their journeys. “Every moment I’ve spent volunteering in these teen mom support groups is worth it. I remember being the one who needed to hear about Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Somebody talked to me, and it cost them too. There is someone in your community who needs to hear too.”
While most young moms would never trade their children for the world, some days are just hard. Baby-daddy drama, dealing with their parents, and worries about the future slam them. They find their friends can’t relate to their little family, and some girls will begin to wonder if God has turned His back on them. In Teen Mom, Goyer pours out her heart and provides encouragement to these young, single mothers, reminding them they can be the mom their children deserve — not in their own strength, but in the strength God provides.
In addition to encouraging these moms, Goyer says she hopes Teen Mom will equip church leaders, pregnancy crisis centers, counselors and anyone involved in the lives of young mothers to broach challenging topics such as purity, sexual abuse and bad boyfriends. Questions found at the end of every chapter will help them discuss these difficult issues, while giving teens a chance to open up and share their experiences.
Teen Mom ultimately serves to remind us all that every young mom is worthy of the love, forgiveness and hope for the future that can only come from God’s love.
About the Author
Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two and wife to John. A best-selling author, Tricia has published 50 books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.com, TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites.
In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, Ark. Tricia, along with a group of friends, shares ideas about simplifying life at www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com.
Posted 2/17/15 at 1:34 PM | Audra Jennings
We all want to guide our children into the abundant life that Jesus offers. But when we pursue the more and better that the world offers above our pursuit of Jesus, we fall into dangerous parenting habits.
In Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles(David C Cook/January 1, 2015/ISBN: 978-0781411394/$15.99), Dr. Michelle Anthony unpacks six common dysfunctional parenting styles that we fall into out of habit, lack of attention, or just oversight due to busyness. If you long to show your children Jesus but don’t know how to do it, you’ll find hope in this practical guide to creating a relentlessly grace-filled home that is focus on God as first in charge.
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family was made for that “freak-out” moment nearly all parents have when they realize their child’s view of God largely comes from what he or she learns at home. While the task is intimidating, parents can avoid the temptation to ignore, outsource or overcompensate and find balance in letting the Lord become the Director of their family’s story.
Anthony points out that while some dysfunction is simply the reality of living in an imperfect world, truly painful dysfunction comes when we choose to sit in the Director’s chair of our life — pursuing abundant life instead of pursuing Christ. By surrendering the pen and allowing God to write the script as He sees fit, parents can guide their children into the abundant life Jesus offers, even in the midst of day-to-day living. This inspiring guide offers practical ideas to get parents unstuck in their family journey of faith.
Q: What does a spiritually healthy family look like?
A spiritually healthy family is made up of members who, in a relationship with Jesus, seek to understand and live a surrendered life to God’s plan and will. Through God’s Word they learn this plan, are convicted by God’s Spirit to understand sin areas and allow forgiveness and grace to heal broken places in their lives. They understand that without God’s help and power, they will not be able to live in peace or victory.
Q: Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family shares a number of stories from parents trying to make Christ the director of their families — what is the common thread you see in spiritually healthy families?
Spiritually healthy families still make mistakes and have sin in their lives; however they are endeavoring to live in reality, and they own up to their shortcomings and mistakes. They keep short accounts with God and others so a one-time offense does not have to become a habit or character flaw.
Q: You use a picture of the relationship between a director and an actor to illustrate our relationship with God. Why did you choose that analogy?
James Dean once said, “When an actor plays a scene the way the director intended, it isn't acting, it’s following directions.” I love the idea that our Christian lives are simply waking up every morning and following directions from God. There is security in living our lives “on script,” but in order to do so we must give up our need to be in control. We must give up the entitlement to have it our own way. Submission to Christ is one of the most difficult parts of living a spiritually healthy life.
Q: You talk about living “on script.” What do you mean by that?
“Living on script” is simply a metaphor for surrendering the need to control my own life, to accept the life God has given me and to play out that life, as written, for His glory and my good. It acknowledges I am not God and He knows better. He sees the beginning from the end and is working things together to accomplish His plans. It is His story, not mine. But I do play a part in it. If I don’t play my part, no one else will.
Q: In Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, you encourage parents to go beyond chore charts and good behavior. What do you mean by that?
Sometimes we are seduced into believing that somehow in the abundance of good deeds and behavior we have achieved spiritual health or faith. However, the Bible is clear that there is a distinct difference between good people and redeemed people. Good people will never be “good enough” to be in a relationship with a holy God. Redeemed people are made right with God because Jesus is good and He took the penalty for sin. When we accept His goodness, He makes us clean. When we try to achieve it on our own we will remain far from God. We want to make sure we are passing on faith to our children, not the counterfeit.
Q: What role does a mission statement serve for a spiritually healthy family?
It serves as a compass. It keeps us focused on the things we declare are most important. Life is full of distractions, and without it we will consistently find ourselves with competing agendas and priorities.