Food for the Soul
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Audra Jennings

Audra Jennings is a publicist with Litfuse Publicity Group.

Posted 4/17/15 at 3:09 PM | Audra Jennings

Does Christianity Have a Place in Today’s World?

Against the Flow by Dr. John C. Lennox
Monarch Books

The concepts of tolerance and political correctness are having a chilling effect on the public practice of Christianity. That’s why readers will find Dr. John C. Lennox’s new book Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Monarch Books/March 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0857216212/$19.99) incredibly timely. Lennox, who has defended the Christian faith in debates against the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, gives every follower of Christ the intellectual foundation they will need to argue the role their faith should have in the public discourse.

While anyone who has spent time in a Sunday-school classroom is familiar with the biblical story of Daniel, Lennox mines this classic historical account to encourage cultural bravery in Christians trying to find their place in a postmodern society. The story of these four young men born in the tiny state of Judah around 500 B.C. and captured by Nebuchadnezzar, the emperor of Babylon, is one of extraordinary faith in God lived out at the pinnacle of executive power. The book of Daniel describes in detail how each of them eventually rose to senior positions of administration.

Yet despite their lucrative positions, Daniel and his friends were not content simply to maintain their private devotion to God. Instead they maintained a high-profile witness in a pluralistic society that was highly antagonistic to their faith, and they would eventually be forced to face the possibility of paying the ultimate price for their religious bravery. Lennox proposes their story carries a powerful message for us today as Christians living in a society that tolerates the practice of Christianity in private homes and in church services, but increasingly deprecates and in some cases even punishes public witness.

“Strong currents of pluralism and secularism in contemporary Western society, reinforced by a paralyzing political correctness, increasingly push expression of faith in God to the margins, confining it if possible to the private sphere,” Lennox says. “It is becoming less and less the ‘done thing’ to mention God in public, let alone to confess to believing in anything exclusive and absolute, such as the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior.” Lennox believes if Daniel and his compatriots were with us today they would be in the vanguard of public debate.

Against the Flow is a truly fascinating examination of the life of Daniel from a leading expert on faith and science. In his first biblical work, Dr. Lennox provides a unique perspective on both Western society and biblical exegesis that will make Against the Flow an instant classic encouraging Christians to speak out in our modern Babylon.

Learn more about John C. Lennox and Against the Flow at www.johnlennox.org or on Twitter (ProfJohnLennox).

About the Author

Dr. John C. Lennox
Dr. John C. Lennox

Dr. John C. Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College. He studied at the Royal School Armagh, Northern Ireland, and was Exhibitioner and Senior Scholar at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University from which he took his MA, MMath and PhD. He also holds an MA and DPhil from Oxford University and an MA in Bioethics from the University of Surrey.

Lennox lectures on faith and science for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and has traveled throughout North America, Eastern and Western Europe and Australasia lecturing on mathematics, the philosophy of science and the intellectual defense of Christianity. He has debated Richard Dawkins at the University of Alabama (2007) and the Oxford Museum of Natural History (2008), as well as Christopher Hitchens at the Edinburgh Festival (2008) and at Samford University (2010), among others.

Lennox’s hobbies include amateur astronomy, bird-watching and walking. He and his wife, Sally, have three grown children and seven grandchildren. They make their home near Oxford.

Keep up with John C. Lennox and read more about Against the Flow at www.johnlennox.org or on Twitter (ProfJohnLennox).

Posted 4/15/15 at 1:52 PM | Audra Jennings

Mom Fights for Her Life and Her Faith

Part 2 of an interview with Helo Matzelle,

Author of Halo Found Hope

Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle
Helo Matzelle
Helo Matzelle

Machines beeping, the blur of medical staff running, a crash cart whizzing into an ICU room, was there any hope? Helo Matzelle laid packed in ice as doctors attempted to somehow stop the swelling in her brain that threatened to take her life.

What was supposed to be six days of recovery in the hospital turned into eight weeks. She awoke to discover that she was not the same. She saw two of everything, couldn't feel half of her face, couldn't hear from one ear, and could not speak. She couldn't even tell anyone that she felt hopeless.

Halo Found Hope is the story of a busy wife and mother of three whose life changed instantly with the diagnosis of a rare brain tumor. An exceptional ENT, a brilliant neurosurgeon and a dedicated medical team tackled the tumor, setting off a series of unbelievable miracles. Helo’s story is not one of survival, or of salvaging a life through a broken body. It is not about endurance through pain, but victory because of it. While the family heard her silence, God heard her prayer.

Helo’s story is simply this: Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, God is right there.

Q: Prior to surgery, your doctor expected you to go home about a week after the surgery, but it took eight weeks instead. What happened that caused the delay?

My projected hospital stay was only six days. In 29 years of practice, my neurosurgeon only had one other patient in stay the hospital for more than a week after brain surgery. Of diagnosed brain tumors, mine was one in two million with a particularly nasty trait. When the tumor is touched, it’s like touching poison ivy; when doctors went in to extract it, my brain swelled, and I became non-responsive. At first, my coma was drug-induced, and then I slipped into one on my own. Life-threatening complications persisted, yet miracles counteracted them.

Q: What was your recovery process like? What did you learn during those difficult days?

My recovery process was lengthy. After three weeks in the ICU, I spent five weeks in in-patient rehabilitation learning how to walk, talk, eat, think and function again. I was an exhausted, floppy, Raggedy Ann doll with contorted double vision and felt completely trapped inside my body. I slept more than 19 hours a day, and the goal of three hours of daily therapy was not simple to accomplish. Learning how to do so much over again was frustrating, but I learned the battle was not my own to fight. God stayed by my side the entire time and helped me turn frustration into determination.

After eight weeks of hospitalization, I was finally discharged to go home — but therapy didn't stop there. I endured an additional 20 weeks of in-home therapy in an attempt to gain a new normal. My patience, endurance and strength were monumentally tested, but I held on to 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV), which says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Q: What were some ways that your friends and loved ones showed support to you and your family during this time?

For the eight weeks I was hospitalized, my husband and parents rotated shifts so someone stayed by my side every day. My children and extended family visited as often as they could. Loved ones, family and dear friends lifted us up in daily prayer, dropped off home-cooked meals, drove our boys to school and various activities, ran errands and did their best to fill in the gap when my husband and I were not around. When I returned home, my mother-in-law, a retired ICU nurse, flew across the country to take care of me. The support and affection of family and close friends did not waiver. It was humbling to ask for continual help, but I will always be grateful for it.

Q: How did you work through your feelings of doubt and fear?

I got real with God and held nothing back. He is one amazing listener. When I doubted Him, I let Him know. When I was terrified, I wasn't afraid to let Him see my fear. Nothing can be hidden from God. That is beautiful and comforting. He has this tender way of understanding and never holds back His perfect affection. Sometimes I thought He did, but I learned quickly He does not let go. When I felt like He had abandoned me, it was because I wasn't looking upward. Over and over again, I’d ask God, “Will I walk, talk, eat, think and function again? My strength is wearing thin. I’m afraid. Why did this happen to me? God, I am scared and sometimes I feel like you aren't really there.” Time and time again, I reflected on Psalm 121:1 (NIV), “I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth.” God reached down and asked “Helo, do you trust Me?” Over and over again, I said, “Yes.” and when doubt set in and I felt like quitting again, He repeated, “Helo, do you trust me? Remember, I promised you I’d never leave you.” Now that is one amazing love.

Q: How would you have described your relationship with God before your health scare? What about afterwards?

Before my health scare, I thought my relationship with God was as good as it gets. I convinced myself I spent enough time with Him, knew how much He loved me and thought I loved Him back enough. I was wrong about that. After my health scare, I fell in love with Him all over again, in ways I never imagined possible. Over time, I saw the more I fell in love with Him, the more I wanted to get to know Him. That cycle of falling in love and wanting to spend time with Him didn't stop. His affection is contagious. At times, I felt I couldn't get enough — and still do today. That’s beautiful. After the storm hit, I placed God as my first priority. Before it hit, I admit I didn't consistently put Him there. I learned when we ask God for something in His name, He doesn't always give us what we want but rather gives us what He wants — for our good.

Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle
Dog Ear Publishing

Q: How has this experience changed your perspective on life? How has your faith grown?

I look at everything differently now. I take nothing for granted — well, I’m better at trying not to. Given a second chance at life here on earth, I’m humbled, have a new heart and new motive, and made my top priority loving Jesus. I live life not simply following God and calling myself a Christian, but live for Him. I've learned to trust God more. I've learned to be patient and wait upon Him. I've learned Jesus doesn't say, “Just ask me, and I’ll give you exactly what you want.” God doesn't work that way. And I am happy he doesn't. His ways are perfect, and mine are not. He takes what He pulls us through to make us stronger and molds us. He knows how to show us what He alone is capable of. We simply need to pay attention. He’s a great teacher who is not done with me (or you) yet. God knows how to show His children what He alone is capable of. All accolades go to Him.

Q: In what other ways has God used your brain tumor for good?

He’s taken this journey and not only helped those with brain tumors, but those facing various afflictions, including cancer, Parkinson’s, depression, frustration and loneliness. Many tell me my journey inspires them and sets their day in perspective. I tell them this is all about what God can do — not me. I am bolder now in sharing God’s strength and affection for each and every one of us.

Q: Do you still experience any side effects from your tumor and surgery?

A large portion of the left side of my face is permanently numb due to nerve damage — as if I go to the dentist every day — but when I smile, no one can tell. I’ll be on anti-seizure medication for the rest of my life. I am challenged and tire easily. My “new normal” brain can only handle so much stimulation, so if I overdo it in one of three areas (cognitive, emotional or physical), I start to shut down and exhaustion sets in. But I've learned to pace myself and recharge my brain capacity with rest. Quiet time with God restores me emotionally; physical rest helps me to press on.

Q: What would you like readers to learn or realize from reading Halo Found Hope?

If I were sitting right across from a reader of Halo Found Hope right now, I’d lock eyes with him or her and say, “No matter who your are, what you are going through, God is right there. You don’t have to face anything alone. He can replace fear with courage, doubt with trust and discouragement with determination — if you let Him. My hope and prayer for you is that you will see — in Jesus, hope is always found. Reflect on His words in John 16:33 (NIV), ’I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’”

Learn more about Helo Matzelle and Halo Found Hope at www.halofoundhope.com and on Facebook (Helo-Matzelle) or Twitter (HaloFoundHope).

Posted 4/14/15 at 1:38 PM | Audra Jennings

Finding the Love of Family in Unexpected Places

The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson

God promises in Psalm 68:6 He will place the lonely in families, and in The Inn at Oceans Edge (Thomas Nelson/April 14, 2015/ISBN: 978-1401690267/$15.99), author Colleen Coble paints a picture for readers of how comfort, acceptance and love can come from the most surprising sources and in the most dire of circumstances. In the first installment in the new Sunset Cove series, Coble introduces us to Claire Dellamore, who — at first glance — seems to have lived an idyllic life. Even to Claire, her childhood seemed like a fairytale, but a business trip to Sunset Cove turns her world upside down.

The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. Her anxiety runs so deep she has a panic attack, causing quite the scene and embarrassing her father. To quiet her nerves, she goes for a walk on the beach but ends up seeing a woman fall to her death from a nearby cliff. Claire believes she has witnessed a murder, but local police find no evidence of foul play and quickly write off the “nervous” woman’s testimony as less than credible.

Local resident Luke Elwell has reason to believe Claire, though. His mother disappeared years ago, and the local law enforcement never investigated it as a potential homicide. Wondering if this new incident could be connected to his mother’s disappearance, Luke steps in to help Claire solve the mystery. As old family secrets are revealed, Claire begins to wonder if her fairytale upbringing was really an elaborate lie.

As their pasts leave them wondering whom they can really trust, Claire and Luke are drawn together into an unexpected bond. “Some families are born and some families are made,” Coble explains. “God brings people into our lives who can fill in some of our missing pieces and help us grow stronger and closer to him.”

Coble has experienced this principle firsthand. Growing up with three brothers, she always longed for a sister, and in her adulthood, she found one in Diann Hunt. Coble says before meeting Diann, she never knew people unrelated to you by blood could feel so much like family. Sadly, Diann lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2013, with Coble at her bedside. Coble reveals, “My love for and connection with her inspired me to write about complex family situations that extend beyond just the traditional nuclear family.”

Readers’ minds will be captivated by the thrilling mystery unraveled in The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, while their hearts will be reminded that ultimately, their identity doesn't come from the family they were born into, but from the Lord — and it doesn't always take blood for love to flourish.

Colleen Coble will be hosting a Facebook party on May 5th at 8:00 PM EST to celebrate the release of The Inn at Ocean’s Edge and connect with her readers. Watch for updates on Coble’s Facebook page.

Colleen Coble, author of The Inn at Ocean's Edge
Colleen Coble

About the Author

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice and the Booksellers Best.

She has more than two million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana.

To keep up with Colleen Coble, visit www.colleencoble.com, become a fan on Facebook (colleencoblebooks) or follow her on Twitter (@colleencoble).

Watch Colleen Coble give a sneak peak at The Inn at Ocean's Edge:

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Posted 4/13/15 at 2:09 PM | Audra Jennings

Cambron Pens Book About a Flicker of Hope Found in a War-Torn World

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron
Thomas Nelson

Just like a single candle can brighten a dark room, a glimmer of hope can sustain the soul in dark times. In her highly-anticipated second novel, Kristy Cambron shines a light on the resiliency of the human spirit in A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson/April 7, 2015/ISBN: 978-1401690618/$15.99).

A Sparrow in Terezin shares the heart-wrenching truth of the Terezin concentration camp during WWII. Of the approximate 150,000 prisoners who passed through Terezin, nearly 90,000 were deported to extermination camps. Of the 15,000 children sent to Terezin, fewer than 100 survived. Despite the lack of basic sanitation, food and clean water though, an arts community thrived there, even among the children. “The art of these children refused to leave my heart,” Cambron admits. “The images are so heart-wrenching, they beg for a voice. It’s because of them that Sophie and Kája’s story was born.”

In parallel stories, readers are introduced in the present day to Sera James. With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairytale wedding just around the corner, Sera feels she’s stumbled into a charmed life — until a brutal legal battle against her fiancé, William Hanover, threatens to destroy her carefully planned future. Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he didn't commit, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and hopes for a future.

In 1939, decades before Sera was born, Kája Makovsky narrowly escapes occupied Prague and is forced to leave behind her half-Jewish family. Kája is working as a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England when she discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, Kája has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom.

Connecting across a century through Holocaust survivor Sophie, who was a child in the Terezin concentration camp, Sera and Kája will discover a powerful kinship. In this tale of hope and survival, these two women must cling to their faith to protect all they hold dear — even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

Above all, Cambron hopes readers walk away from A Sparrow in Terezin encouraged that no matter what life brings them, they can find strength, courage and beauty in a life following Christ.

A Sparrow in Terezin is the follow-up to Cambron’s critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, which has garnered numerous awards, including being named to Library Journal Reviews’ “Best Books of 2014.”

About the Author

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron
Kristy Cambron

Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut historical novel, The Butterfly and the Violin  (Thomas Nelson, 2014), was named to Library Journal Reviews’ “Best Books of 2014,” Family Fiction’s “Top Ten Novels of 2014” and received nominations for both the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards “Best Inspirational Novel of 2014” and the 2015 INSPY Award for “Best Debut Novel.” Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson, April 2015), was named Library Journal Reviews’ “Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction)” for February 2015.

Cambron is an art/design manager at TheGROVEstory.com storytelling ministry. She holds a degree in art history from Indiana University and has nearly 15 years of experience in instructional design and communications for a Fortune-100 company. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

For more information about Kristy Cambron or A Sparrow in Terezin, visit www.kristycambron.com, become a fan on Facebook (KCambronAuthor) or follow her on Twitter (@KCambronAuthor).

Posted 4/9/15 at 2:40 PM | Audra Jennings

The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce

Part 2 of an interview with Tez Brooks,

Author of The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce

The Single Dad Detour by Tez Brooks
Tez Brooks

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).

Q: Why did you use the metaphor of cars and navigating the road in your book?

I wanted it to appeal to your average Joe. That theme just seemed to come naturally as I began writing. I kept comparing a divorce to a car accident. I compared the similarities between finding your way through that wreck and navigating a road trip. Those metaphors just kept coming until I realized a theme was developing. I liked it because men and cars seem to go together.

Q: The Single Dad Detour is filled with practical advice on topics from what food to keep in your fridge to how to decorate your new house or apartment. Why are these things important?

Kids need a sense of home. There’s a reason sometimes why Hollywood portrays us as clueless single dads whose fridge contains nothing but soured milk. It’s because they know it’s often true to life. While a lot of single dads may have found real freedom in being able to display their Mad Max posters and their beer can lampshades, our kids need photos of Grandma on the wall and a living room floor not cluttered with tools. One of the easiest ways we can create a sense of home for our children is to learn to cook and provide a safe and warm environment for them to live in.

In the early months following my divorce I hadn't learned this valuable lesson yet. I made the mistake of buying my son a dog bed. Yep, you heard me right. You know the big round ones for German shepherds? I know I’m an idiot, but it seemed like a great idea at the time. And my son Caleb loved it! It took about 30 seconds for it to hit me: My son’s sleeping in a dog’s bed! I got him a real bed the next day.

Q: It’s common for single dads to feel overwhelmed by their financial and relational responsibilities. How is The Single Dad Detour designed to bring meaningful change to a busy dad’s life?

I wanted to be intentional in addressing this very issue, so I developed an interactive element at the end of each chapter so dads would have some practical “takeaways.” Readers have an opportunity to reflect on what they've read by answering some hard questions, reading a scripture passage and then planning their next steps to apply what they've read. There’s even a suggested prayer at the end of every chapter. These things are key for going beyond just reading a book to discovering lasting change.

Q: Why are some men tempted to become absentee fathers? What are some of the consequences for their children if they do so?

As I interviewed men in my research for The Single Dad Detour, I ran into guys who said they were tempted to be absent. I think this comes from the insecurity men can develop as a single dad. 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. It can make a guy feel like maybe his child would be better off without him in his or her life.

What happens is actually the opposite. Studies show boys who don’t have their father around are more likely to end up in prison. Little girls without that strong connection to a present father are more apt to become promiscuous as a teen. It’s imperative dads cast down those lies the devil tells them and be intricately involved in their kids’ lives.

The Single Dad Detour by Tez Brooks

Q: Men are “fixers” by nature, but it can be tempting for them to fix parenting problems without the Lord’s help. You had one such moment after Christmas shopping with your daughter once. Tell us about that.

I was shopping with the kids and had really had my fill of the holiday crowds and traffic. I just wanted to get home. My daughter was crying in the back seat because she didn't get to have her photo taken with Santa at the mall. My impatience was building, but I didn't expect it to boil over like it did!

Her whining wouldn't stop, so in a moment of exasperation I screamed, “Be quiet! Santa’s not real. He’s dead!” The crying stopped as she blinked in disbelief. I knew I had messed up as soon as I said it. I could see by the look in her eyes, my words had slapped her in the face. No Father of the Year Award this year, I supposed. My daughter started her crying again, but this time it was more of a high-pitched squeal. “Nooo, Santa’s not dead!”

I remained silent all the way home, considering how I might cover my mistake. There was no hiding my outburst, though, and all I could do to make it right was apologize. When we got home I hugged her and asked for forgiveness. She sunk into my chest as we rocked back and forth. I realized that night I must make it a habit to initiate an apology when I screw up. Even more, I learned I’m a pathetic father without God’s grace and help.

Q: How can a dad have a strong spiritual impact on his children even when not living with them all the time?

Your kids are watching you no matter where they live. For kids who watch their fathers, there’s no mistaking what their dad is passionate about. It’s going to be obvious. Kids observe when you react to things in your flesh, rather than respond with Christ’s character. I messed up a lot. I showed my anger, my selfishness, my pride . . . but I tried to live a life of repentance. I think if we make the Lord part of our everyday conversations, our kids will be able to discern our Christianity is more than a hobby — it’s a relationship with the Creator.

Learn more about Tez Brooks and The Single Dad Detour at www.everysingledad.com, on Facebook (everysingledad) or on Twitter (tezd63).

Posted 4/1/15 at 2:38 PM | Audra Jennings

New Book Explores the Complexity of Family Relationships

When Grace Sings by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Waterbrook Press

Bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer believes in the power of second chances — a theme she’s captured with poignant grace in her new book, When Grace Sings (WaterBrook Press/March 17, 2015/ISBN: 978-0307731333/$14.99) which follows the CBA bestseller When Mercy Rains in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy. Sawyer says the series is based on one simple truth: “God gives second chances. We as humans make our mistakes, we flounder and err and build walls that seem insurmountable,” Sawyer reveals. “When we confess our wrongdoings and ask God to redeem us, He brings restoration.”

When Grace Sings introduces readers to Alexa Zimmerman, who has relocated to Arborville, KS, where she’s converting her grandmother’s farmhouse in Old Order Mennonite country into a bed-and-breakfast. Inspired by her own experience of running a B&B, Sawyer was able to depict perfectly the charm and challenges she details in the book. “I would never have considered writing a story including a B&B were it not for our experiences at The King’s Inn,” Sawyer admits. “We've met so many wonderful folks we wouldn't have known any other way. They came as strangers and left as friends. And that brings me to the hardest part — the goodbyes. It’s nice, though, that we are still in touch with many of our guests through Facebook.”

Seen by locals as an outsider, Alexa wonders if the close-knit community will ever fully accept her and her new business. Her family roots here aren't what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over.

However, the arrival of overly confident and dashing Chicago reporter Briley Forrester throws Alexa for a loop. Despite her suspicions of just what his sudden appearance amidst the plain folk means, Alexa agrees to allow Briley to stay as a long-term boarder. She has to — she has a lot riding on her new bed-and-breakfast — even if his flirtatious manner annoys her. Struggling to fit in, Alexa encounters more than she bargained for when her cousin Anna-Grace Braun and fiancé, Steven, visit. The presence of extended family brings out Alexa’s insecurities, and the two women find themselves on a trail to unraveling long-held family secrets.

Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang in the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace are forced to face that their secrets are connected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined. Will the revelations they stumble upon shake them and their family to the core, or will they trust God to restore relationships and accept His grace?

This engaging novel will remind all readers that with God as their guide, it’s never too late for a second chance.

About the author

Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of When Grace Sings
Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher someday people would check out her books in libraries. That little girl’s dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return. Since then, Sawyer has watched God expand her dream beyond her childhood imaginings. With more than 30 titles on library shelves and more than a 1.5 million copies of her books in print, she enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Her books have received the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

Empty-nesters, Sawyer and her retired military husband, Don, enjoy a quiet existence in small-town Kansas, the setting for many of her novels. When she isn’t writing, Sawyer stays active serving in her church’s women’s and music ministries, traveling with “The Hubs” and spoiling her quiverful of granddarlings.

Keep up with Kim Vogel Sawyer at www.kimvogelsawyer.com, on Facebook (KimVogelSawyer.Author.Speaker) or by following her on Twitter (KimVogelSawyer).

Posted 3/25/15 at 4:57 PM | Audra Jennings

Author Helo Matzelle Found Ray of Hope in Darkest of Circumstances

Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle
Dog Ear Publishing

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.

A portion of all author proceeds from Halo Found Hope will go to the National Brain Tumor Society, the largest non-profit organization dedicated to the brain tumor community in the United States.

About the Author

Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle
Helo Matzelle
Helo Matzelle

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.

Learn more about Helo Matzelle and Halo Found Hope at www.halofoundhope.com and on Facebook (Helo-Matzelle) or Twitter (HaloFoundHope).

Posted 3/24/15 at 5:00 PM | Audra Jennings

The Story of One Mom's Life Who Got Turned Upside Down

Part 1 of an interview with Helo Matzelle,

Author of Halo Found Hope

Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle
Helo Matzelle
Helo Matzelle

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

Coble Pens Series That Comes From a Personal Place

An interview with Colleen Coble

Author of the Journey of the Heart series

Colleen Coble author of the Journey of the Heart series
Colleen Coble

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.

A Heart's Diguise, book one in the Journey of the Heart series by Colleen Coble
HarperCollins

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!

To keep up with Colleen Coble, visit www.colleencoble.com, become a fan on Facebook (colleencoblebooks) or follow her on Twitter (@colleencoble).

Posted 3/16/15 at 12:58 PM | Audra Jennings

Laurie Wallin: Special Needs Parents Need to Take Care of Themselves too

Part 2 of an interview with Laurie Wallin, Author of Get Your Joy Back

Click here to read the full Q&A!

Get Your Joy Back by Laurie Wallin
Laurie Wallin

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

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