Food for the Soul
CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Audra Jennings

Audra Jennings is a publicist with Litfuse Publicity Group.

Posted 4/25/13 at 3:27 PM | Audra Jennings

Tricia Goyer to Host Online Event Featuring New Family Devotional

Facebook Party will spotlight the release of Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions

 Are you tired of asking the same questions at dinner and receiving uninterested, one-word replies? What did you learn at school today? Nothing. How was work, honey? Work. What do you think of my new recipe? Weird. Break away from the routine and get your family excited about sharing meals together. Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc./March 22, 2013/ISBN 978-1-5899-7676-4/$9.99) by Tricia Goyer and Crystal Bowman can help you bring substance and excitement to your family meals. On May 1 at 8 PM EDT/5 PM PDT, Goyer will be hosting an interactive Author Chat on Facebook to share ideas for meaningful and fun discussions with your family from the new release.

Spending quality time with family is turning into a rare occasion. Between having hectic schedules and being tied to electronics, something as simple as having a meal together turns into a major feat. Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions encourages families to gather around the dinner table by providing a variety of topics and messages to get your family talking, learning, and laughing. The book is composed of 90 devotions that are broken into three categories: everyday, holiday, and specially-themed devotions.

In addition to being an Adventures in Odyssey release, Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions is also a recommended resource of Focus on the Family’s Make Every Day Count campaign, a Facebook community where families are encouraged to be intentional with the daily meals in five areas: dinner, conversation, laughter, time, and prayer. Brock Eastman, Producer of the Odyssey Adventure Club launching this fall, will be joining Goyer during the Facebook party to give participants a preview of the new club.

Leading up to the Facebook Party, Goyer will be doing a 12-day Diverting Dinnertime Giveaway. Starting April 19 and ending April 30, participants can visit Tricia’s Facebook page for a new giveaway each day. Prizes range from copies of Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions and gift cards to games and other fun, family-oriented activities.

During the May 1 Facebook Party, participants can submit questions for Goyer to answer and are qualified to win a variety of prizes, including copies of Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions. Those interested can RSVP and join the party via the author’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/authortriciagoyer).

About the Author
Tricia Goyer is the author of over 30 books and has been published in many national publications such as Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family magazine, Today's Christian Woman, and HomeLife magazine. She has won numerous awards and has been nominated for both the Gold Medallion Book Award and the Christy Award. Tricia is a highly sought after speaker at workshops and conferences and is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana. Tricia is married to the love of her life, John, and they have six great kids. They live in Little Rock, Arkansas, where John works for FamilyLife.

To learn more about Tricia Goyer and her books, visit http://www.triciagoyer.com. She is also active on Facebook (@authortriciagoyer) and Twitter (@triciagoyer).

About Tyndale House Publishers
Tyndale House Publishers, founded in 1962, is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media. Tyndale has published many New York Times bestsellers. The largest portion of its profit goes to the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which makes grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Tyndale was founded to publish Living Letters, which later comprised part of The Living Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that became a global publishing phenomenon. Tyndale now publishes the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), the translation of choice for millions of people.

About Adventures In Odyssey
Mealtime Devotions is the latest release from Adventures In Odyssey at Focus on the Family. For over 25 years, parents have trusted Adventures In Odyssey to provide resources to help their children grow in their faith. Over 20 million products have been distributed worldwide including audio dramas, fiction books and devotionals. Adventures In Odyssey audio dramas are heard on radio by over 2 million in the U.S. and by others in over 40 countries around the world.

About Focus on the Family
Focus on the Family, which reaches about 238 million people in 130 countries, is a global Christian ministry that helps families thrive. We provide help and resources for strengthening believers in their faith and sharing the gospel; building resilient marriages that reflect God’s design; equipping parents to raise their children with a thriving faith; advocating for the preborn, orphaned and life at every stage; and engaging the culture through a biblical worldview. Visit Focus atFocusontheFamily.com or on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow the Focus PR team on Twitter.

Posted 4/23/13 at 4:57 PM | Audra Jennings

An interview with Ace Collins, Author of 'Darkness Before Dawn'

Tragedy brings out either the best in us or the worst. However, it is nearly impossible to predict what a person’s response will be until something life-changing happens. In his latest release, Darkness Before Dawn (Abingdon Press / March 1, 2013 / ISBN: 978-1426714672 / $14.99), best-selling author Ace Collins tells the heart-wrenching story of a young woman’s pursuit of justice after losing her husband in a senseless accident that never had to happen.

Q: You categorize Darkness Before Dawn in the genre of moral issues suspense. How would you define that category?

A novel has to be entertaining, so authors have to use some kind of genre, be it adventure, romance, drama, suspense and intrigue, in order to pull the reader in, then we can focus on moral issues. But the lesson has to be a part of the plot. This book uses drama, heartache and suspense in a way that might mirror Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, but its goal is to leave the reader thinking about choices. Those values or issues in Darkness Before Dawn include abortion, suicide, DUI and a judicial system that can be swayed by influence, power and money. Those are pretty heavy topics, and they are wrapped in a plot that centers of cost or price of revenge and retribution. In other words, Darkness Before Dawn is a wild ride going into areas a lot of Christian books really don’t want to touch. That includes showing the bad side of a really good woman and flipping our feelings for the villain from hate to actually empathizing with him.

My goal is first and foremost to create books you can’t put down. In other words I want these novels to be page turners, to keep you reading by being so interesting that they cost readers some sleep and examine life decisions. It will explore them not just in a black-and-white fashion, but in these pages I want to get readers to consider the middle ground as well. Moral issues are not easy, and when faced with doubt, grief and pain, many Christians often make choices that others don’t understand. So I want to leave readers with a lesson that there is great wisdom in leaving the judging to God and for readers to realize that there is great power in embracing those in need even if we don’t agree with their choices. After all, a doctor can’t heal anyone until he or she lays their hands on that sick patient.

Q: What message do you hope readers walk away with after reading Darkness Before Dawn?

I am hoping folks see the real pain and suffering in a life fueled by hate and vengeance. I hope in the end they also see the greatest power on earth is forgiveness and love.

Q: Meg is very angry at God after her husband is killed by a drunk driver. Do you think there anything wrong with asking, “If there is a God, why did He let this happen?” when something bad takes place in our lives?

I think it is a natural question. I think we all ask it when tragedies happen. When a hurricane or tornado hits and so many die, we wonder “Where was God in this?” I think the same thing is true when we see a child who has a terminal disease. Thus I think Meg’s reaction is one most of us would have, but I’m not sure how many would admit having it. That is why we have Nancy in the story. The dying woman who really knows about life not being fair gives Meg and us a perspective to consider.

Q: In dealing with her grief, Meg becomes very set on seeking justice for the drunk driver involved in her husband’s accident. How does her anger and bitterness make her situation even worse?

Seeking retribution and revenge brings out the ugliest side of any person. They become consumed by it and therefore lose their ability to reason. As we say in the story, a little bit of hate unchecked becomes a cancer that destroys all that is good in a person. So hate and bitterness gave her focus, but it made Meg’s life far worse and it took her being confronted by her own answered prayers to see the full cost.

Q: Meg found out she was pregnant on the very same day her husband died, which makes a difficult time in her life even more complicated. Once the baby is born, she names her Dawn. Can you share some of the symbolism of this choice as it relates to Meg’s life?

The name Dawn represents Meg living through a darkness she could not imagine and then once more finding the faith and the light. Dawn therefore represents not just a hopeful name for a baby but Meg actually finding a reason to live and the power to forgive. So it represents a new start for her as well.

Q: You’ve written everything from novels to biographies and how-to books to devotionals. What do you enjoy writing the most? How do your projects come to you?

I have had so much success in nonfiction over the years, I should say I really like that. But in truth I most love the challenge of the novel. Fiction’s only limit is imagination while nonfiction is limited by facts. Thus, to have the freedom to create lives and then take them on adventures is just an amazing experience. That said, I want to continue to write nonfiction, too. And both fit well with my fascination with history.

Q: Is it difficult to come up with new material constantly?

In truth, the ideas are pretty easy for me. I have all these characters locked in my head, and if I didn’t put them in books they might just drive me crazy. It is the writing that is the work. On top of that I have a log book where I keep ideas, book outlines, hooks, plot twists, etc. I figured out the other day I have to live to 128 and write four books a year to go through the whole log book. I also have more than 50 church bulletins filed away that have detailed book ideas on them.

Learn more about Ace Collins and his books at acecollins.com. Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (ace.collins) or follow him on Twitter (@AceCollins).

Posted 4/22/13 at 6:05 PM | Audra Jennings

An interview with Beth Wiseman, author of 'The House that Love Built'

Award-winning author Beth Wiseman has hit the best-sellers lists with each and every one of her releases, and her latest, The House that Love Built (Thomas Nelson / April 2, 2013 / ISBN 978-1595548894 / $15.99), is sure to follow. Set in the small town of Smithville, Texas, readers will fall in love with the entire community, making it more than just another story of “boy meets girl,” but also a realization that God puts certain people in our paths for a reason. Drawing on the themes of forgiveness and turning to God during difficult times, Wiseman’s story and characters will stay on the hearts of readers long after they read the last page.

Q: Is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers walk away with?

I hope that Brooke, Owen and the rest of the gang will stay on readers’ hearts for a long time, that readers will reflect on the very different ways that the characters handled the events in their lives. And in turn, hopefully the story will inspire people to turn to God in both the good times and the bad.

Q: Forgiveness of self and others is one of the themes that runs through The House That Love Built. Why do you think it is so hard for us to forgive ourselves and let go at times?

People often say we are only hurting ourselves when we can’t forgive someone. That holds true when we can’t forgive ourselves, too. God forgives us . . . and so easily. Yet, we beat ourselves (and others) into the ground over the burdens of our past. I personally have trouble forgiving myself, so that ends up in my books a lot.

Q: Both of your lead characters have “baggage” that keeps them from wanting to pursue a new relationship. Do you think sometimes we let our past get in the way of what God has planned for our futures?

Carrying our burdens of the past is self-destructive, and my goal for this story was to have several of my characters shedding their burdens as they grow in their faith and put their trust in God.

Q: Even though she questioned God’s will, Brooke clung to God after her husband died. However, Owen did the opposite when his wife left. Do you think there’s any reason in particular some people have one reaction versus the other when something bad happens in their life?

I have no idea why people react so differently during a crisis, and I intentionally wanted to incorporate both sides, so to speak, into the story. The spiritual arc in this book is clearly Owen’s, so I wanted to show his struggles and how he eventually reaches out to God. But I also wanted to show that there are people who do not turn from God during a crisis—like Brooke—no matter how unfair things might seem.

Q: Has there been a time in your own life where you could really sense God was putting you in a situation for a reason?

That has happened to me many times, but I couldn’t foresee the reasoning — especially during the bad times. It has taken years to understand that much of what I have experienced was to give me a better understanding of certain situations so I could write about it and hopefully help others. I’m not sure I could have captured the hospital scene in my second novel if my own son hadn’t spent a month in the hospital. My character was fifteen, just as my son was when he was sick, so my emotions ran deep. I’ve witnessed a miracle, so I wrote about one. I’ve made mistakes I’m not proud of, and those seem to find a way into my stories, as well, painful as some of them might be. I’m adopted, so I’ve written about that. Each book I write ministers to my own soul, and I pray the stories will bring peace to my readers.

Q: The House that Love Built is set in Smithville, Texas, where several Hollywood movies have been set. You live nearby. What’s so special about Smithville?

I love writing stories set in small Texas towns, and Smithville is really quaint with friendly people who live there. The movie Hope Floats was filmed there, and the town is very welcoming to authors, film crews and the public in general. There are a lot of older homes like the one Owen purchases in my story. The “mystery” surrounding the house was inspired by a house in another small Texas town: Schulenburg.

Q: You are best known for your Amish fiction, and The House That Love Built is just your second venture outside that genre. What persuaded you to try something new?

I think it’s natural to want to spread your wings a bit when you’ve written so many novels and novellas in the same genre. For me, writing about Texas comes naturally since I live here, and I love to write about a community, as opposed to just “boy meets girl.” I like a good love story, but my secondary characters usually end up with large roles because I like to show how God puts certain people in our paths for a reason, however unlikely it might seem to us at the time.

Q: What’s on the horizon for you? What will you be writing next?

I just finished book number six in the Daughters of the Promise series, releasing in October 2013. I’ll also be doing some Amish novellas for the next couple of years. But the next full-length book I will be working on jumps way outside of the box. It will take readers far away from Amish Country and Texas to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. I can’t say too much yet, just that it is inspired by a true story and something very close to my heart.

Learn more about Beth Wiseman at bethwiseman.com and follow her on Twitter (@bethwiseman). She also hangs out at Fans of Beth Wiseman on Facebook and loves hearing from readers.

Posted 4/16/13 at 1:09 PM | Audra Jennings

An interview with Bo Stern, Author of 'Beautiful Battlefields'

No one enjoys going through the struggles of this life, and no one enjoys suffering. However, as author Bo Stern writes in Beautiful Battlefields (NavPress/February 15, 2013/ISBN: 978-1612913193/$ 14.99), God uses our darkest moments to shape us into the people He wants us to be. “Though we would rather avoid battles and suffering, God does some of His most beautiful work through the hardest seasons in life. In fact, there are some things that can only be accomplished in us through battle.”

Q: Tell us about the biggest battlefield you’ve found yourself stepping upon.

My biggest battlefield has definitely been my husband’s diagnosis with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2011. ALS has no known cause, no cure and a 2-5-year life expectancy. The process of dying is almost more difficult than the prognosis, as victims of ALS are slowly paralyzed until only their eyes and brains function. My husband and I had been married 27 years at the time of his diagnosis, and he had not known a single physical issue up until that time. It was a gut punch unlike any I have ever known. For two years now, we have gone to bed on the battlefield of ALS and woken up on the very same ground.

Q: We all face battles, even daily battles, but do you believe everyone will face at least one major “Really Big Battle”?

I do. One thing that has come from my situation is that people are eager to tell me about the battles they are facing, and I love this. I love to hear their stories and be the listening ear that they need. With tears streaming, they tell me of abuse they suffered, or husbands who have walked out, children who are in prison or just years of rejection and loneliness. Then they almost always end with something along the lines of, “But I know it’s nothing compared to what you and your husband are going through.”

This is fascinating to me because I have never experienced any of those things, and I can’t imagine how I’d deal with them. I have had 28 years being well loved by an amazing man, and some people have never known a single day of true love. We all have a story, and we all have a storm. And yes, now that I’m in my 40s, I have yet to meet anyone who’s lived any amount of life who hasn’t experienced something very significant. Jesus clearly wasn’t kidding when He said, “In this world you will have trouble.”

Q: Does God always bring beauty from the battle? Are we always able to see it, or do we sometimes just have to trust that something good will come of it, even if we can’t see it?

Yes. Always. Always, always. And I believe trust plays a part in seeing it, but perspective plays a bigger part. When I can see my world and my war through His eternal lens, then I am able to see what He is accomplishing through my battle that could not have happened another way. Sometimes it’s a deeper dependence on Him. Sometimes it’s a more compassionate heart toward others who are hurting. Sometimes it’s a new credibility that comes to those who have suffered well and lived to tell the tale . . . but beauty always comes from battle.

Now, some battles we create ourselves (like David created a battle with God when he slept with Bathsheba), so if we’ve sinned our way into a battle then we need to obey our way out. But even then He is still able to work all these things together — even our mistakes — for His great glory and our great joy if we submit to His leadership in our lives.

Q: What is the one Bible verse that brings some level of comfort and peace to you?

My husband and I have adopted Genesis 50:20 as our mantra during this season. It’s the words of Joseph to his brothers, “You intended this for evil, but God meant it for good for the saving of many lives.”

On the day of Steve’s first doctor visit, when we knew what we might be dealing with, we held hands on our couch and poured out our hearts and tears to Jesus. Our prayer that day was, “We are lashed to the altar of your purpose and we are not going anywhere. You can use us however you want and send us wherever you want.” We believe we’ve been sent to the ALS community to bring hope and strength, and we would never have been qualified to go otherwise. ALS looks like the biggest curse to all the rest of the world, but for us it has provided credentials to move into a place we never could have gone otherwise. This verse is plastered all over our walls in our house, on T-shirts, on posters and on the band I wear right next to my wedding ring to remind us: Something bigger is at work here. This battle is not going to defeat us, and it is going to save many lives. It will be beautiful.

Q: You write about how you once thought love and trust go hand in hand, but you realized they don’t always. Why is it so difficult for us to trust?

We can love a lot of pretty surface things. We can love how someone looks or how funny they are or how they dress, but trust moves beyond skin-deep and into character. I think it’s hard for us to trust God because most of us have such a shallow understanding of His character, so we generally determine how trustworthy He is by how well our lives are going at any given time. But His character is unchanged and unchallenged by our circumstances. And when we really know who He is, He’s easy to trust.

People have sometimes asked me why He heals some people but not others. My answer is: I don’t know. I’ve studied and thought and prayed . . . and I still haven’t figured it all out. But when I’m faced with something I don’t know about His nature or His decisions, I build on what I do know about Him. I know He is good. I know He loves me. I know He will not be in debt to me. And what I do know about Him is enough for me to stay steady in the storms that are caused by what I don’t know. I trust His character. He’s proven Himself to me.

Q: Who are some of the people from the Bible you use as illustrations? What can we learn from their battles?

My inspiration for this book came the day I read about David’s victory over Goliath and I was thinking about how great David’s life must have been after that win, with all the pretty girls singing his praises. But then I read the verses right after that and realized the victory made Saul jealous, which caused him to send David out against the Philistines over and over again, hoping the Philistines would kill him. So frustrating — to imagine going out to fight the same enemy day after day. It’s totally unfair. But Saul’s plan backfired because all that time on the battlefield only served to make David stronger, more skilled and more famous. In fact, it prepared him to take Saul’s job.

I think we’re conditioned to believe that battle is bad. But really, it can accomplish some very specific and wonderful things in our lives.

Q: How does simply knowing God is in control make our battles a little easier?

It makes my to-do list a lot shorter. For instance, in the beginning of our fight I felt horribly inadequate to provide for my family, put kids through college, pay for weddings — even just keeping a roof over our heads seemed overwhelming. I distinctly remember the day He spoke to me and said, “I’ve already been to every minute of your battle. I’ve gone before you, and I’ve placed provision where you’ll need it. You won’t see it now, but it will be there when you need it.” It’s good that He’s in control because He’s already been to the future and back. He knows what I’ll need in a way I cannot, and He is on the job so I can sleep well at night.

Q: Is there some way we can remind ourselves God is in control?

When you’re in a fierce fight, it can feel like you’re losing everything — like everything is spinning wildly out of control. In my case, my husband losing his health does impact many areas, but it helped for me to sit down and make a list of the things I still possess and the things that can never been taken. I have an eternal inheritance. I have life and joy and peace. I have the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I have an army of friends who love me. The list ended up flowing onto two pages, and I read it every time I felt frantic or afraid — sometimes ten times a day in the beginning until it was pretty much embedded in my thinking. The other thing that has helped so much is a fierce reliance on His Word. Sometimes I can only read one verse over and over through tears, but that verse is living and active and reminds me He is at work in all of this.

Q: You write about facing our giants and how we sometimes magnify our battles, making our giants bigger than they really are. How can we redirect our thinking to see our battles as God sees them?

If we measure our giants next to ourselves, then we’re always going to be in trouble. Most giants are bigger than me. Bad hair days are bigger than me. But no giant is bigger than God, so I don’t need to be afraid of them and I can know that He holds my whole battlefield — including all the bad guys — in the palm of His hand. If I am walking in His will, then when the enemy picks a fight with me, he picks a fight with the God who has promised to defend me. Psalm 81 tells me His enemies cringe before Him, so I know I’m in good hands staying in His shadow while He fights for me.

Q: Not only are you in the midst of your own Really Big Battle, you have had to confront many smaller battles tied to your husband’s ALS. Could you share how you are able to endure each of those challenges while facing your biggest giant?

I’m learning to do the things only I can do and let the incredible friends and family in my life help with the rest. My husband needs me, my kids need me, but Costco doesn’t need me — so my friends brave Costco for me and help with stuff around our house, which frees me up to focus on the stuff that really matters. I’ve had to get good at asking for help and receiving it with joy. Part of the way God helps us in long battle seasons is by giving us an army to fight and stand with us. I’d be in big trouble without mine.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who cannot see past the battle they are facing at the moment?

Don’t get isolated. I have a group of about a half dozen women in my life whom I can call at any time and they will be there. They will answer. They will love me. They won’t preach or judge, but they also won’t let me just sit in a ditch of discouragement without offering me a lifeline out. They remind me of the bigger picture, and they help me refocus on the things that are secure. I also empowered these women in the beginning of our fight to raise a flag if they ever heard me getting bitter or angry at people or at God. They have. They have lovingly confronted me when they think I’m getting stuck in a mindset that will keep me from joy.

Q: What are some of the strategies you share for growing stronger through every battle?

One of the most surprising strategies is generosity. Whenever we’re faced with a Really Big Battle, I think our immediate tendency is to get very protective of our resources. We guard our time, our treasure and our trust and try to keep it from being stolen. But Isaiah 30 says, “The generous man devises generous things and by generosity he stands.” It doesn’t say the wealthy man devises generous thing; it says the generous man. So we determined early on to be intentionally generous with our money, our approval, our time, our energy, and it has made life very fun for us. When you feel like some big, bad enemy is trying to take things from you, it’s so freeing to spread open your arms and be willing to give stuff away. And we didn’t move to a new level of generosity so God would bless us, but He has. Over and over and over again. And it makes us feel like we’re winning.

Another strategy in the book is pray, listen, obey. The battles in the Bible prove there is no stock formula for a sure win — sometimes they march around walls, sometimes they sneak around the back, sometimes they send the worshipers in first — but those strategies were all formed first in the place of prayer and obedience. It’s a winning formula every time.

Q: What is the best way to show your support to a friend in the middle of a battle?

I think this depends on your level of friendship. If you don’t know that friend well, then a note of encouragement or a very simple, “I just want you to know I’m praying,” is good. Anything beyond that runs the risk of being suffocating. But if it’s a deeper friend, then it’s good to put some muscle into your love and do something. People have blessed Steve and I with date nights, with meals, with housecleaning — all sorts of practical things that have made our fight so much easier because we know we’re not alone. I have a couple of friends who are my official 24/7 friends. I know I can call any time I feel like I’m falling apart. Just being there in a tangible way is a beautiful thing for someone in a big battle.

Connect with Bo Stern online at www.bostern.com, or via Facebook (www.facebook.com/beautifulbattlefields) and Twitter (@bostern).

Posted 4/15/13 at 4:29 PM | Audra Jennings

God Puts People in Our Lives for a Reason

Best-selling author Beth Wiseman encourages readers to trust in God’s plan, no matter what

Award-winning author Beth Wiseman has hit the best-sellers lists with each and every one of her releases, and her latest, The House that Love Built (Thomas Nelson / April 2, 2013 / ISBN 978-1595548894 / $15.99), is sure to follow. Set in the small town of Smithville, Texas, readers will fall in love with the entire community, making it more than just another story of “boy meets girl,” but also a realization that God puts certain people in our paths for a reason. Drawing on the themes of forgiveness and turning to God during difficult times, Wiseman’s story and characters will stay on the hearts of readers long after they read the last page.

Brooke Holloway is focused on raising two young kids on her own after the death of her husband, the only man she’s ever loved. Although broken-hearted, she clings to God in her sorrow, believing He is ultimately in control. Caught up in running the family hardware store in order to support the family, the last thing on her mind is falling in love. However, she’s intrigued when a stranger moves to town and buys the old Hadley mansion. She’s always heard that house holds a secret — maybe even a treasure — and she can’t wait to see inside. When she meets the new owner and they spend time together, she can’t deny the attraction. Could God be giving her another chance at happiness?

Owen Saunders bought the Hadley place for one reason — to spite his cheating ex-wife who always wanted to restore an old house in Smithville. Now he’s going to do it without her in an effort not only to rebuild the house, but also himself after a painful divorce. But if anything needs restoration, it is Owen’s heart. Then he meets Brooke and her kids and finds himself tempted by love. Can he bring himself to trust a woman again? Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love? As they learn more about Owen’s house, one thing becomes obvious: God has put them together for a reason.

Much like Brooke and Owen, Wiseman has sensed God putting her in situations for His purpose. In turn, she has written some of the lessons she’s learned into her stories whether it be in her Amish series or her new venture into contemporary novels (The House that Love Built is her second non-Amish release). “There have been times in my life that I could see God was using the situation, but I couldn’t foresee the reasoning — especially during the bad times. It has taken years to understand that much of what I have experienced was to give me a better understanding of certain situations so I could write about it and hopefully help others,” explains Wiseman. “I’m not sure I could have captured the hospital scene in my second novel if my own son hadn’t spent a month in the hospital. I’ve witnessed a miracle, so I wrote about one. I’ve made mistakes I’m not proud of, and those seem to find a way into my stories, as well, painful as some of them might be. I’m adopted, so I’ve written about that. Each book I write ministers to my own soul, and I pray the stories will bring peace to my readers.”

Ultimately, in addition to an entertaining story, what Wiseman hopes readers walk away with is, “God forgives us . . . and so easily. Yet, we beat ourselves (and others) into the ground over the burdens of our past. I personally have trouble forgiving myself, so that ends up in my books a lot,” admits Wiseman. “Carrying our burdens of the past is self-destructive, and my goal for this story was to have several of my characters shedding their burdens as they grow in their faith and put their trust in God.”

About the Author

Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. All of her books have held spots on the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) Bestseller List and the CBA Bestseller List. She is a recipient of the prestigious Carol Award, two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and an INSPY Award winner. Her first book in the Land of Canaan series, Seek Me With All Your Heart, was selected as the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year.

As a former newspaper reporter, Beth was honored by her peers with eleven journalism awards, including first-place news writing for The Texas Press Association. She has been a humor columnist for The 1960 Sun in Houston and published articles in various publications. However, writing novels is where her heart is. After a personal crisis tested and strengthened her faith, her agent advised her to consider writing a Christian novel, particularly an Amish one. She left her job as a journalist in 2008 to write novels fulltime.

Wiseman has a deep affection for the Amish and their simpler way of life, and while she plans to continue writing Amish love stories, she is also branching out into other areas. Her first non-Amish, contemporary, Need You Now, was released in April 2012. She enjoyed writing the story based in a town near where she lives, and she’s chosen another small Texas town for her latest non-Amish contemporary, The House that Love Built. This time, the story takes place in Smithville, the same quaint town where movies such as Hope Floats and Tree of Life were filmed. In between her contemporary releases, she will be writing more Amish novellas.

Beth and her husband are empty-nesters enjoying country life in Texas with two dogs, two cats, five goats and two pigs. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, paint and enjoy time with friends and family. She hangs out at Fans of Beth Wiseman on Facebook and loves hearing from readers. Wiseman can also be found at bethwiseman.com and on Twitter (@bethwiseman).

Posted 4/12/13 at 5:32 PM | Audra Jennings

An Interview with Sheryl Giesbrecht, Author of 'Get Back Up'

Did you know it is possible to survive a freefall from the Willis Tower in Chicago or a skydive with a failed parachute? It will hurt, and it will take some time to heal, but it is possible. Our lives can be a lot like that freefall, but we can survive whatever challenges God puts in front of us if we just get back up. In Get Back Up: Trusting God When Life Knocks You Down (Wheatmark/March 2013/ISBN: 978-1-60494-854-7/$ 12.95/also available in e-book), Sheryl Giesbrecht shares her personal story of triumph over tragedy to help readers understand they can not only survive their adversities, but thrive.

Q: For most authors, one defining experience drives them to write their book. You’ve actually faced many obstacles that would have kept most people down for the count. Can you share with us about a difficult time in your life when you had to trust in God and Get Back Up?

Several years ago, I found a lump under my left eye; months later, the lump had tripled in size, blocking my vision. I was afraid and skeptical when I went to the doctor. I could see the concern in the physician’s eyes when sent me to another doctor, a specialist, who sent me to get further tests. You can imagine my surprise when two months later, after no warning signs, such as being tired or sick, I was told I had stage four non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. As a cancer patient, I felt out of control. My life was scheduled for tests, surgeries, doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy, side-effects—everything changed. For a control-freak like me, this was very difficult. I chose to trust God, to place myself in His control every day. Psalm 73:26 says, “My body and mind may grow weak, He is my strength, all I ever need.” This was a daily choice for me. On days I was tired or sick from the medication, I chose God’s way and not my past methods of dealing with adversity.

Q: Why do you think we tend to want to handle things ourselves rather than hand our struggles over to God in times of doubt, despair and disappointment?

Many men and women are wounded. They mourn in silence, yearning for freedom, yet they remain unable to acknowledge the love of God. They can’t bring themselves to reach out for the hand of God. Disabling circumstances sap their strength, often beyond their control, yet they don’t respond to God’s invitation to get back up. Why do some choose to live life in a state of numbness? Because they believe renewal is for friends, husband, parents, even children—anyone but them. Some think their damaged emotions are too ruined for God to heal. They don’t trust him with their pain. They need to see that the power to get back up begins when the believing starts. That’s what trusting God is all about.

Q: How does forgiveness and letting go of grudges play into us being able to get back up?

God wants to release us from our frozen state of bitterness to a graceful walk in the freedom of forgiveness. God asks us to forgive, but He also gives us the ability to do it. Consider Matthew 18:33: “Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as had mercy on you?” (NIV).

Remember: Forgiveness is giving ourselves a gift, not giving a gift to the person we’ve forgiven. In fact, the person we forgive may not ever know we’ve forgiven him, but God will. Forgiveness is between God and us. Confessing our forgiveness to someone who has not first asked for it can cause more problems than it solves. Forgiving others should actually begin at the time we are offended, but it can still be accomplished even if the hurt occurred years ago—even if the offender is now deceased. Forgiveness is good for us!

Letting go of a grudge is good for your health. Grudges increase tension and stress, deplete energy, cause isolation and prevent old wounds from healing. Grudges steal joy, disrupt sleep and harden hearts and arteries. Such bitter emotions can even get in the way of prayers. Resentment keeps us in chains unless we recognize it as bitterness. Give up the grudge and our right to get even, and we will gain peace, sound mind and restful sleep. We can train our minds to refuse to keep score of the wrongs others have committed against us through the power of God’s Word. Remember that 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV).

Q: Survival during a physical fall is dependent more on how you land than how you fall. How can we prepare to land on our feet when we fall figuratively?

We can prepare and plan ahead because we know it’s not if but when we will “fall.” We can spend time with God in prayer and in His word every day. In times of “peace and prosperity,” we might want to take a vacation from spending time with God. If, instead, we choose to put down our roots, we will invest in a huge spiritual return. So when we do “fall down” in the changes and challenges of life, we sense God is near. We believe God is just a prayer away and waits for us to ask Him to help us get back up when we are knocked down by life. God wants us to reach out to Him in times of difficulty, doubt, despair, depression, disappointment, disease, destruction, divorce, discouragement, domestic violence or death. God’s hand is extended to us. His will for us when we are down and out is to turn to Him and ask for a hand up. He asks us to lace our fingers into His. “God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (Psalm 145:14 [The Message]).

Q: Why do we feel we have to clean up our messy lives before turning to God? Isn’t the whole point that we can come to Him as we are?

We are afraid of being vulnerable before God. Some of us can hardly stand ourselves, so we wonder why God would love or how he could possibly love someone like us. We forget the church should be a hospital for the sick. We measure ourselves against others around us, masking our pain and hiding our true feelings. This belief system is an addiction; it’s called perfectionism. If we read our Bible regularly, we find the testimony of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-16 is also extended to us. It reads, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” Now that’s a great example of God’s unconditional love!

Learn more about Sheryl Giesbrecht on her website, www.FromAshesToBeauty.com. She also invites readers to follow her on Facebook and on Twitter (@SGiesbrecht).

Posted 4/11/13 at 11:40 AM | Audra Jennings

Bring Your Money Into the Light

Article written by Christy Fitzwater, author of the e-book Going Cash

Download Going Cash for free at www.christyfitzwater.com/writing.

For the first two decades of our married life, I handled all the finances and did it poorly. Of course, I didn’t know I was doing it poorly, but now I do.

I thought it was great that I was taking care of the money, so my husband didn’t have to worry about it. It seemed like a good wifely thing to do, taking that burden off his already heavy plate. But now I see that what happened was me and the money went into a dark room, and bad things happen in the dark.

Matt’s really frugal, and he didn’t need money for stuff most of the time. But then every once in a while he would say, Hey, can we buy… I would go ballistic. Are you crazy? Do you know what our finances look like? No we don’t have money for that!

Of course he didn’t know what our finances looked like.

The money was in the dark.

A few years ago my monthly spending got really bad. We were starting to spend money we didn’t have, encroaching into the next month’s paycheck –a dangerous place to be. I realized one day that I was swiping the debit card without evening looking at the amount I was spending. I would leave the grocery store having no clue what I had just done to our monthly budget.

Until the bank statement came, and I would be appalled at what I had spent. But that’s what happens when the money is in the dark.

So in frustration three years ago, I decided to follow my friend’s lead and go to using all cash.

Best decision EVER.

You know what happened? I went to the bank and saw the money in the envelope. I put money for Matt in separate envelopes for his spending –right out there where he could see how much he had. I placed real money in see-through plastic sleeves in a purse-sized money organizer. Now even the kids can see how much clothing and allowance money they have.

Jesus says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:21 NIV)

I used to be horrified to talk to Matt about the state of our finances. It didn’t seem nearly so bad when it was just me and the money in the dark, but when I pulled out the truth for him to see I would realize how bad it was. Now that we have gone to using all cash, I have no shame. We all can see how much money there is. Our spending is well under control. (Thank God!) It has brought a peace into our marriage that I didn’t know was missing until I experienced it.

So let me ask you–is your money in the dark where things go bad, or have you brought your finances into the light?

To read more from Christy Fitzwater or download Going Cash, visit her blog at www.christyfitzwater.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@Christy_Fitz).

Posted 4/10/13 at 4:36 PM | Audra Jennings

Tricia Goyer and Tracey Eyster to host “Lead, Momma, Lead!” Webcast April 16

Tricia Goyer and Tracey Eyster, both Tyndale authors, will host a live Facebook webcast on April 16 at 8:00 PM EDT—discussing the ways in which moms are leaders, and how they can improve their skills. Tricia (Lead Your Family Like Jesus, March 2013) and Tracey (Be the Mom, August 2012) are both active contributors on MomLifeToday.com.

Tricia and Tracey will address the obstacles and joys of leading, share personal success stories, and offer practical tips for leadership as moms. They will also host a Q & A for participants to pose questions.

The webcast will be hosted on Tricia Goyer’s Facebook page at (http://www.facebook.com/authortriciagoyer/app_169786083172146). For those not on Facebook, the webcast will also be available at on the Litfuse Publicity Group website (http://litfusegroup.com/lead-momma-lead-live-webcast-tricia-goyer-tracey-eyster). Participants can RSVP for the event ahead of time by signing up for a reminder on the webpage.

Tricia Goyer, along with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, recently released Lead Your Family Like Jesus, which helps parents see themselves as life-changers who get their example, strength, and joy from following the example of Jesus at home. Tricia is the author of over 30 books and has been published in many national publications such as Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family, Today's Christian Woman, and HomeLife magazine. She has won numerous awards and has been nominated for both the Gold Medallion Book Award and Christy Award. Tricia is a highly sought after speaker at workshops and conferences and is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana. Tricia is married to the love of her life, John, and they have six great kids. They live in Little Rock, Arkansas, where John works for FamilyLife.

Tracey Eyster released Be the Mom in August 2012. Tracey is a wife, mom, and social media guru who is passionate about motherhood and speaking truth and wisdom into the lives of moms. As the creator and editor of MomLifeToday.com, Tracey’s media and writing skills have allowed her to speak into the lives of mothers around the world, connecting with them where they are congregating—online. In her experience as a mom, Tracey has identified several traps that can ensnare mothers and overwhelm then. Her first book, Be the Mom, identifies these traps and uses Tracey’s personal experience to help moms see the importance of motherhood and survive the day-to-day struggles. She and her husband Bill live with their two teenagers in rural Arkansas. Their home is frequently filled with her kids’ teenage friends as Tracey intentionally pours into their lives.

Tyndale House Publishers, founded in 1962, is the largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media in the world. Tyndale has published many New York Times bestsellers. The latest portion of its profit goes to the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which makes grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Originally founded to publish the Living Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that became a global publishing phenomenon, Tyndale now publishes the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), the translation of choice for millions of people worldwide.

TYNDALE, Tyndale’s quill logo, New Living Translation, NLT, and the New Living Translation logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Posted 4/9/13 at 3:38 PM | Audra Jennings

An interview with Lisa T. Bergren, Author of 'Grave Consequences'

There was a time when a months-long trip across Europe to see the sites, soak in the culture, and learn the history brought an end to a young person’s formal education. In The Grand Tour series, best-selling and award-winning author Lisa T. Bergren becomes the tour guide, vividly painting the landscapes and historical events that shaped Europe one hundred years ago, transporting readers back to 1913. Next on the itinerary is the release of Grave Consequences (David C Cook/March 1, 2013/ISBN 978-1434764324/$14.99), a powerful, captivating story of a woman searching to find herself, opening her heart to love, and discovering what a covenant truly means.

Q: Grave Consequences is the second book in your Grand Tour series. A Grand Tour was popular among the wealthy a century ago. What exactly was a Grand Tour and what purpose did it serve?

It was considered a way to “finish” one’s education or prepare for a life in society from about the 16th century on. Travelers, many of them from England, went from England over to “the Continent,” and traveled through France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. They sometimes went to Greece and Spain, too, but for my purposes, and because my troop only had a summer, I abbreviated their trip. The purpose was to see major monuments and works of art, as well as meet people who might assist the young people in the future to “get ahead.”

Q: I’ve heard you like to travel. Were you able to go on your own Grand Tour of Europe to research for this series?

For a long time I fantasized about a year away with my family, traveling Europe for the most part. But even as that dream grew and I started writing this series, God began funneling my attentions back to home. He’s created a new fire for us in our ministry close to home, so we couldn’t picture leaving. And a serious lack of funds for such an adventure made it even clearer! Still, we’ve managed to go to England, France, and Italy, so I had some good research to work from.

Q: What is the theme that runs deep throughout the Grand Tour series?

It’s an ongoing search for identity. When everything you know about yourself and your foundations is destroyed, how do you find your identity again? In a way that can never be “destroyed” again? It’s in our identity in Christ, of course. That’s what Cora is uncovering, piece by piece. She began in Glamorous Illusions, she gets a bit lost and confused in Grave Consequences, but it will really come to a satisfying end in Glittering Promises.

Q: Cora stubbornly believes she will be able to return to her old life when she returns from her months-long trip. Can we ever really “go home again” or “go back to the way things were” and not be changed by the events and circumstances in life?

I think we can go home again. But to think it will be the same is foolish. We’re forever being molded and grown and pruned and changed in life. We can return home, but we return an evolved person.

Q: Would you say God puts circumstances in our lives in order for us to grow and change?

I’d say he uses every single factor in our life to bring us face to face with him. He longs for us. And fortunately for us, this tough world often makes us turn to him.

Q: The theme of parents leading their children to make certain decisions affects several of the characters in Grave Consequences. Do you think parents today still tend to send their children on the paths that they believe is right for them rather than letting their young adult children discover their own direction?

Oddly, I think this has become an issue for parents and children again. Back in Cora’s era, futures were heavily directed by parents. Now, parents are trying to dictate their children’s lives, too. Make it easier. Pave the way, instead of allowing them to find their own.

Q: One of the lines from the book’s summary reads, “For every decision, good or bad, there is always a consequence.” The word consequence usually has a negative connotation. Do even good decisions have negative consequences?

Every decision does result in consequences, but I wouldn’t say they’re always bad. I’m fascinated by looking back at decisions my ancestors made, or I made, and to think about what would’ve happened had any of us taken different roads. It makes it all the more important to seek out God’s guidance!

Learn more about Lisa T. Bergren and Grave Consequences at her online home, www.lisatawnbergren.com. Readers can also join Bergren’s Facebook fan page or follow her on Twitter.

Posted 4/5/13 at 4:45 PM | Audra Jennings

Sometimes You Have to Experience Darkness Before You Can See the Light

Ace Collins leads readers on an emotionally charged ride from revenge to forgiveness

Tragedy brings out either the best in us or the worst. However, it is nearly impossible to predict what a person’s response will be until something life-changing happens. In his latest release, Darkness Before Dawn (Abingdon Press / March 1, 2013 / ISBN: 978-1426714672 / $14.99), best-selling author Ace Collins tells the heart-wrenching story of a young woman’s pursuit of justice after losing her husband in a senseless accident that never had to happen.

On the same night she discovers she is pregnant, 28-year-old nurse Meg Richards’s husband is killed in an auto accident caused by a drunken teen. Facing the future of raising her child alone is almost more than she can bear. Angered by her senseless loss and facing life as a single mother, Meg blames God for what has happened. Her desire for the drunk driver to be punished begins to take over, and the consequences of what she is contemplating will change not only her life but the lives of those around her. Her profound grief may push her over the edge.

James Thomas is a star athlete and glamour boy at the local high school, but the accident he caused will change his life — and Meg’s future — forever. James comes from one of the most influential families in the community whose wealth and power sways a corrupt judicial system. Enraged by the brutal trial and the court’s decision, Meg starts down a frightening path of retribution. When the opportunity for revenge comes unexpectedly, will Meg follow through? Or will the remnants of her faith lead her in a different direction?

Collins describes Darkness Before Dawn as moral issues suspense, combining elements that not only keep readers on the edge of their seats, but also cause them to consider their own life decisions. “This novel is a wild ride going into areas a lot of Christian books really don’t want to touch,” admits Collins. “These pages will explore these decisions not just in a black-and-white fashion, but in the middle ground as well. Moral issues are not easy, and when faced with doubt, grief and pain, many Christians often make choices that others don’t understand.”

Through Meg’s story, Collins gets into the issues of abortion, suicide, driving under the influence and a judicial system that can be swayed by power and money. While all of these are heavy topics, Collins is able to provide just the right balance and wraps them into a plot that centers the price of revenge and retribution. “I want to leave readers with the lesson that there is great wisdom in leaving the judging to God. I am hoping folks see the real pain and suffering in a life fueled by hate and vengeance, and in the end they also see the greatest power on earth is forgiveness and love. There is great power is embracing those in need, even if we don’t agree with their choices.”

Click here to watch the trailer for Darkness Before Dawn. Learn more about Ace Collins and his books at acecollins.com. Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (ace.collins) or follow him on Twitter (@AceCollins).

About the Author

There is no doubt that Ace Collins lives to write! This is proven by the more than 60 titles he has created in the past two-and-a-half decades, including thrillers such as Reich of Passage, action-adventure novels like Jefferson Burke and the Secret of the Scroll, sentimental tales and mysteries found in the pages of The Yellow Packard and even moral issues suspense found in Darkness Before Dawn.

Collins continues to pen nonfiction books and has a new devotional book based on popular music coming out later this year. In addition to bestsellers such as Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, he has written the biographies of Evel Knievel, Bette Midler and Pam Tillis, how-to books, an historical children series, and a book on the star players of the old Negro baseball league. Altogether, his books have sold more than two million copies. In the course of his writing career, Collins has also penned more than 2,000 magazine features for national and regional publications. For the past 25 years he has also been the editor and graphic designer for World Evangelism Magazine. He also hosts the nonprofit charity organization’s radio and television broadcasts.

Collins has made many national TV guest appearances on programs such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, Fox and Friends and many others. Two of his books have been made into network TV specials, and Collins even hosted the ABC holiday offering Lassie 280 Dog Years On TV. His book Father Does Know Best was made into a NBC movie of the week.

Collins has won numerous awards for his writing including three Golden Quills, an America’s Writing Award and the Angel of Excellence Award. He has spoken to many groups and was a feature lecturer at the National Archives Author Series in Washington, D.C.

When he is not writing, Collins enjoys restoring and driving classic cars and collecting movie memorabilia from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Ace and his wife, Kathy, live in Arkadelphia, AR, where she is a professor at Ouachita Baptist University and he is the voice of the Ouachita Tiger basketball team. The couple has two adult sons.

Learn more about Ace Collins and his books at acecollins.com. Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (ace.collins) or follow him on Twitter (@AceCollins). FULL POST

load more