Books

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Posted 10/18/17 at 11:42 AM |

New book about peace birthed in the midst of incurable cancer diagnosis

When Dr. David Butts, long-time Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, began writing his new book “Prayer, Peace and the Presence of God: A 30 Day Journey to Experience the Shalom of Jesus,” he didn’t know that the words he was writing after six months of study would soon become desperately needed in his own life. Barely one week into the writing process, Dr. Butts was diagnosed with Stage IV Mantle Cell Lymphoma, an incurable cancer. It was devastating news to his family.

“My wife, Kim, often tells people that we have not shed a single tear over cancer, but many tears over the love shown us by so many people,” says Dr. Butts. “There’s no doubt that the cancer diagnosis caused us concern, but I have to say firmly that we never lost our peace. I had been studying Scriptures on peace for over six months in preparation for the writing of my book, and those scriptures had prepared my mind and my emotions for this jarring intrusion into normal life.” FULL POST

Posted 10/10/17 at 11:15 AM | Audra Jennings

God has a plan in the messiness and confusion

Part 2 of an interview with Cindy Woodsmall,
Author of Gathering the Threads

Click here to read part 1 of the interview.

WaterBrook
Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

Cindy Woodsmall’s latest series, Amish of Summer Grove, introduces readers to two young women, one Englisch and one Amish, who were switched at birth and follows them as they discover what their lives would have been like had the switch never taken place. In Gathering the Threads (WaterBrook), Woodsmall deftly weaves complex issues of identity into the story. What makes us who we are? Are we simply a result of our genetic ancestry? Does our family determine our future . . . or is there something more to identity?

Q: Skylar experienced a culture shock when she arrived in Summer Grove. What lessons did she learn from her new Amish family that helped her overcome her battle with drug addiction?

Oh, my, where to begin when it comes to Skylar! I’ve had readers contact me, sharing they felt she was unredeemable and wished I wouldn’t waste any more time on her and just toss her to the side to focus on Ariana and her Amish family. That surprised me, and it hurt because I have someone in my life who once had many of Skylar’s traits. We can’t give up the fight. Everyone wants the sweet, stalwart child. However, like winning the lottery, reality doesn’t give us everything we want.

Skylar lives a selfish life unchecked. Her desires for admiration and drugs are a bottomless pit of hunger, but despite those things, when Ariana was forced to live with her biological parents, Skyler was the only person who had the ability to save Ariana’s café from going under. Skylar is smart and talented, but her addiction threatens to ruin her life before it can really get started.

It was quite a battle for Skylar to get clean, and she fought with her Amish family to leave her alone and let her be an addict. One Amish sibling fought back, saying, “Don’t let something that cares nothing about you control your life. It will make you as apathetic as it is. Fight, Skylar. Decide that you, your family and your future are worth more than these stupid pills!”

Other things came into play concerning Skylar and her addiction, but Skylar finally understood the value of life. She began the battle to get clean and stay clean.

Q: What lessons in hope and faith do you hope readers takeaway from reading Gathering the Threads?

Metaphorically, we often have an idea or vision or number in our heads of what life and people are supposed to add up to be. In reality life is messy and confusing, and it’s rarely what we thought it would be. Even God doesn’t always add up to our ideas or dreams or that elusive number, and we can’t make ourselves, others or God add up. We must accept and believe despite all the messiness and confusion. In the series, Ariana realized there were many translations of God’s Word, and it seemed to her there needed to be more grace and less legalism about exactly how to live. That’s the theme. Hebrews 13:9 says, “It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.”

Q: Is there a subtler, maybe even hidden lesson you hope readers consider as well?

I think there are many. A fictional story has the power to slip into a reader’s skin and enable her to see nuances of understanding that make life as broad and beautiful as God intended. I didn’t intentionally write hidden lessons, but when readers slip into a character’s world, they often discover things the author didn’t see. As readers, personal insight is our superpower.

Q: Some people who have never read Amish fiction usually have a certain perception of the genre without giving it a chance. What would you say to encourage new readers to branch out and try the Amish of Summer Grove series?

I would say they may be missing out on some of the best reads of their lives. In any genre, there are different types of books. I’d like to think this series goes deeper than most and leaves readers breathless, thinking they were going on one journey and discovering they went on an entirely different one. I enter the Amish world and lift the veil of presupposition, not showing readers what they expected to see, but showing them a very different reality — one I hope builds faith inside their own lives.

The Amish way of life challenges us to consider more than the mantra of self-discovery and self-rule. When we get a peek into their way of life, we can begin to understand how and why they put sacrificial action behind their beliefs. At the same time, we take a journey into a world that struggles to uphold all the previous generation upheld. The heart cry of the faithful in every generation, whether Amish or Englisch (non-Amish/non-Plain), is to do what is best for the family, the faith community and those we influence. We learn how the Amish pass their faithfulness from one generation to the next while we see the weaknesses of trying to have too tight of a grip on the next generation. The determination and struggles of the Amish are a clear depiction of our struggle with the world around us.

Cindy Woodsmall, author of "Gathering the Threads"

Q: Gathering the Threads is the third and final book in your Amish of Summer Grove series. Is it difficult for you to end a series and leave the characters behind?

Yes and no. After three books there are many pieces to put together and many facets of the story to juggle and remember. It’s a bit of a relief to get to start a fresh story, but at the same time, it feels like I’m saying good-bye to close friends. How can I not write any more about Ari, Quill and Skylar? Possible spin-offs about their future lives fill my mind when I close my eyes at night, even though it’s not feasible to bring those to the page right now. The good thing about book-friends is they are always there on the page and in my heart whenever I want to visit them.

Q: Can you share a little bit about the book you are you writing next?

I just finished writing my first non-Amish novella with my daughter-in-law, Erin. It comes out in October and is titled The Gift of Christmas Past. I’m currently writing a full-length non-Amish book that will release in the fall of 2018. Its working title is Soft Dusks and Noonday Fire, and the setting will be the beautiful St. Simons Island, Georgia. I have an amusing, spunky cast of characters I think my readers will enjoy getting to know.

Learn more about Woodsmall and her books at www.cindywoodsmall.com. She is also active on Facebook (@authorcindywoodsmall).

Posted 10/5/17 at 11:09 AM | Audra Jennings

Have you invited Jesus to His party?

Melissa Spoelstra helps readers make over the Christmas season and celebrate with purpose

Abingdon Press
Total Christmas Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra

In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do: decorating, cooking, socializing, and shopping. However, it is important to pause and remember the priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ’s birth and not forgetting to invite Jesus to His own party. In Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose (Abingdon Press/October 3, 2017/ ISBN 9781501848704/$16.99), Melissa Spoelstra provides a practical approach for helping families learn what it means to truly celebrate the Savior.

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

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

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

The 31 reflections in Total Christmas Makeover focus on prioritizing the rituals, relationships and rest that will draw readers nearer to Christ while celebrating His birth. Each reading contains key scriptures, thought-provoking questions to ponder, as well as practical ideas to implement, helping to reimagine the holiday and then prepare for the year ahead. Mindfully taking the time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provides encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and His wisdom for us today.

Christmas is far more than a celebration of an event from long ago or a modern holiday centered around shopping. However, that doesn’t mean the gift-giving aspect of Christmas doesn’t have meaning. “The wise men brought gifts, and Jesus is the greatest gift to us,” reminds Spoelstra. “Giving gifts is a tradition to remind us of our generous God. Dialoguing about the tradition of gifts and taking time to include our families in being generous to others help realign us in remembering the greatest gifts usually aren’t bought in a store. People, peace, contentment and forgiveness are all gifts. Shopping for a needy family, reading about missionaries and starting traditions of gratitude help us rediscover the joy of giving and receiving.”

A Christmas makeover doesn’t mean changing all traditions and habits throughout the holiday season to completely adopt new ones. However, it might mean prioritizing the traditions pointing to Christ’s birth, rediscovering the intent behind treasured practices, or incorporating new rituals to help share God’s message of love.

Advance Praise

“Christmas is meant to be cherished and celebrated, not barely survived due to stress. Total Christmas Makeover will help you focus on Jesus, directing your heart to the loving Savior who came to earth. With many practical applications, your Christmas season will become much more meaningful and rich after reading Spoelstra’s book.”
~ Arlene Pellicane, speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom

“Are you tired of just letting Christmas happen at your home — and praying merely to survive? No more! Now you and I can be absolutely intentional about embracing all the fun, faith, family and friendships of this amazing holy season. Melissa Spoelstra’s Total Christmas Makeover gently guides us through everything seasonal around music, food, scripture reading, extended family gatherings, serving and especially how to rest in the midst of it all.”
~ Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of Ordinary Graces and Dwelling Places

“How many times I’ve said, ‘This Christmas I want to keep my focus off of presents and onto His presence, off of the craziness and onto the stillness, away from commercialism and nestled in the arms of God.’ Melissa Spoelstra has given us the perfect 31-day companion to make this desire a reality.”
~ Laurie Polich Short, author of When Changing Nothing Changes Everything

About the Author

Melissa Spoelstra, author of Total Christmas Makeover

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She has a deep, abiding passion for studying God’s word and teaching others to do the same.

Spoelstra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology from Moody Bible Institute and enjoys teaching God's Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author several Bible studies, including Numbers: Learning Contentment in a Culture of More, First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree, Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness and Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World. She is also the author of two books – Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose and the Mom's Choice Award-winning Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home.

Spoelstra describes herself as a small-town girl from East Texas, but she now resides Dublin, Ohio, with her church planter/pastor husband of more than 20 years and their four children.

To keep up with Melissa Spoelstra, visit melissaspoelstra.com. You can also follow her on Facebook (AuthorMelissaSpolestra) and Twitter (@MelSpoelstra).

Posted 10/4/17 at 12:38 PM | Audra Jennings

Randy Singer’s latest release is equal parts legal, political and military thriller

Part 1 of an interview with Randy Singer,
Author of Rule of Law

Tyndale
Rule of Law by Randy Singer

In a world of political accusations and threats of war, what does the public need to know, and what is better left unsaid for our own protection? Are our leaders following the Rule of Law or acting outside it? In his latest legal thriller, Rule of Law (Tyndale House Publishers/September 5, 2017), award-winning author and attorney Randy Singer weaves a gripping page-turner that explores the inner workings of the White House, the CIA and the State Department in dealings with foreign governments. Drawing from one of his own recent cases, Singer gives readers a glimpse of what is really going on behind the headlines of today’s international events.

Q: In the author’s note of Rule of Law you explain you wrote the book to address some critical issues lurking on the horizon. What are some concerns you have that Americans should be aware of? FULL POST

Posted 10/3/17 at 10:28 AM | Audra Jennings

Of more value than many sparrows

Part 1 of an interview with Lori Benton,
Author of Many Sparrows

WaterBrook Press
Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Understanding why some things happen the way they do is impossible, but as Christians, we must remember God is in control and His timing is perfect. His purposes are deeper and broader than we can imagine. These are lessons Clare Inglesby must learn in award-winning author Lori Benton’s latest historical novel, Many Sparrows (WaterBrook).

Set in 1774 and based on historical facts, Many Sparrows depicts the harrowing account of a young mother who will stop at nothing to find and reclaim her son after he is taken by a native tribe.

Q: Without giving away too much of the story, can you share where the title Many Sparrows comes from? FULL POST

Posted 10/3/17 at 10:19 AM | Audra Jennings

How would your life be different if you grew up in another family?

Part 1 of an interview with Cindy Woodsmall,
Author of Gathering the Threads

WaterBrook
Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

How different would your belief system be if you grew up in a different culture? Would your faith in God be the same if you were raised in a different family? New York Times best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall poses these questions in the powerful conclusion to the CBA and ECPA bestselling Amish of Summer Grove series in Gathering the Threads (WaterBrook/August 15, 2017).

Q: The Amish of Summer Grove series introduces readers to a pair of girls, one Englisch and one Amish, who were switched at birth. What are some of the challenges each faced when pushed to experience the life she would have lived had the switch never taken place? FULL POST

Posted 9/29/17 at 10:59 AM | Audra Jennings

Lessons in how to live and how to die

Becky Baudouin shares priceless lessons her mother revealed during her battle with cancer

“I’ve taught you how to live; now I want to teach you how to die. You don’t have to be afraid.” When Becky Baudouin’s mother spoke those words to her, they weren't said lightly. Her mother had an inoperable tumor — and after months of treatment, there was no hope for a longer life. There was, however, assurance of everlasting life. In Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy: What My Mother Taught Me About How to Live and How to Die (Kregel Publications/September 26, 2017/ISBN: 9780825444746/$14.99), Baudouin shares the invaluable wisdom imparted by her mother during her final days.

Upon learning of her mother’s diagnosis, Baudouin made a decision she knew she would not regret. “I decided to rearrange my priorities so I could show up and be fully present with my mom during her illness. I knew I needed to pull back from some of the groups and activities I was in so I would have the energy and time to take care of myself and my family and to take frequent trips to be with my mom. I realized I had limited time and resources and knew it was a season that wouldn’t last forever.” FULL POST

Posted 9/28/17 at 11:20 AM | Audra Jennings

Where does your anchor lie?

Micah Maddox helps readers experience a power-full life in a problem-filled world

The world is rife with global and personal crises. News outlets report one troubling development after another. Within the home, studies reveal half of Americans feel financially insecure, more than half are unhappy in their jobs and divorce rates escalate with each subsequent marriage. When problems abound, it can feel as if God is far away. However, as Micah Maddox explains in Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World (Abingdon Press/September 5, 2017/ISBN 978-1501848674/$16.99), these same trials can bring us closer to God if we change our way of thinking and focus on Him.

“Every day, we all anchor our lives in something. Sometimes we anchor our lives in our work, mothering, goals, desires and sometimes even our problems. I’ve learned I often allow my problems to take the center stage of my thinking and my life,” Maddox confesses. “Anytime we allow anything other than God to take the focus of our hearts and minds, we are not living in the power God has provided for us to live in. God is teaching me that living anchored in His presence is the only way to experience His power. Living anchored in means we willingly set aside every circumstance and problem of our lives and fully focus our hearts, minds and souls on the Savior, the Anchor.” FULL POST

Posted 9/28/17 at 11:14 AM | Audra Jennings

Are the leaders of our country undercutting the Rule of Law?

Randy Singer’s latest release is equal parts legal, political and military thriller

In a world of political accusations and threats of war, what does the public need to know, and what is better left unsaid for our own protection? Are our leaders following the Rule of Law or acting outside it? In his latest legal thriller, Rule of Law (Tyndale House Publishers/September 5, 2017/HC ISBN 978-1-4964-1815-9 $24.99/SC ISBN 978-1-4964-1816-6 $15.99), award-winning author and attorney Randy Singer weaves a gripping page-turner that explores the inner workings of the White House, the CIA and the State Department in dealings with foreign governments. Drawing from one of his own recent cases, Singer gives readers a glimpse of what is really going on behind the headlines of today’s international events.

Equal parts legal, political and military thriller, the story begins with a SEAL raid on a Yemen prison. For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare presidential mission, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday, but the SEAL team would break them out. FULL POST

Posted 9/27/17 at 11:33 AM | Audra Jennings

It is never too late to restore broken relationships

Sawyer tells the story of three generations of women shaped by an unsolved mystery

Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated. When secrets from the past are involved, the best of intentions can be entirely misunderstood. Bringing Maggie Home (WaterBrook/September 5, 2017/ISBN 978-0735290037/$14.99) by award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer explores the hearts of three generations of women whose lives have been shaped by the 70-year-old unsolved mystery of 3-year-old Maggie Blackwell.

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

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

When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a leave of absence from her job as a cold case investigator, the three women find themselves living under the same roof for the first time. In these close quarters, the painful secrets and hidden traumas of their past are exposed. Will Meghan be able to use her investigative prowess to solve what happened to Maggie, the family mystery that has been haunting Hazel for 70 years? Will finding the answers help all the women recover what’s been lost? Each woman must contend with the healing presence only God can offer to restore deeply wounded relationships.

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

Sawyer, in her characteristically heartfelt and gentle style, deftly handles the complexity of how past actions influence present circumstances. “Our past does affect our present,” says Sawyer. “[But] God can make beauty out of the ashes of our past when we fully give ourselves to Him.”

For more on Bringing Maggie Home, including the first chapter excerpt, visit www.waterbrookmultnomah.com.

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

Advance Praise

Bringing Maggie Home is beautiful, deep and engaging! Don’t miss out on this powerful and emotive story.”
~ Cindy Woodsmall, New York Times best-selling author

“In Bringing Maggie Home, Kim Vogel Sawyer has once again woven a story so rich and unforgettable that it leaves her readers both satisfied and hungering for more. Her storytelling ability invites her readers into each
scene. We laugh and cry, squirm and ache with the characters as if they were family members . . . even the absent ones.”
~ Cynthia Ruchti, author of more than 20 books, including A Fragile Hope and As My Parents Age

About the Author

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades, including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

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.

Sawyer lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband, Don, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope and redemption. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.

For more information about Sawyer and her books, visit her online home at www.kimvogelsawyer.com. She is also active on Facebook (KimVogelSawyer.Author.Speaker) and Twitter (KimVogelSawyer).

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