BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

GIVE AWAY - NORA INTERVIEWS BONNIE ST. JOHN



BIO: Bonnie St. John has been interviewed on national television programs such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, BET and Lifetime, and has written for or been featured in publications including The New York Times, People, Ebony and Essence. She graduated with honors from Harvard and is a Rhodes Scholar and Oxford University graduate.


After winning numerous awards as an IBM sales rep, Bonnie was appointed by the President of the United States to serve as director of the National Economic Council in the White House. Bonnie is a 1984 Paralympics silver and bronze medal winner in ski racing and has touched over half a million people through her speeches over the past ten years. Her popular books include How Strong Women Pray (2007) and Live Your Joy (April 2009). Her website is www.bonniestjohn.com.


HERE'S BONNIE ST. JOHN - UP-CLOSE AND PERSONAL

You’ve mentioned in your book, Live Your Joy, that you’ve had a dream to be an author since fourth grade. Is being an author everything you thought it would be? If not, what has surprised you?


I imagined being a writer would be like Jessica Fletcher on the old TV show with Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote. I would tour around in limos signing books for crowds of people then go home to my small town and hang out with friends and family while leisurely writing the next book.













I think most authors are surprised by how much work there is that isn’t writing. You spend a lot of time getting the contract, working with your publishers, and of course, getting out and making sure the book sells. You really need to build your talents in a variety of areas you wouldn’t expect.


But I do occasionally get limos and I sign a heck of a lot of books. Whenever people ask, “Do you mind signing all these books?” I say, “Its an honor.” I love being an author even more than I imagined as a kid!







































In your book, Live Your Joy, you’ve talked about many wow moments in your life such as winning a silver and bronze medal in the 1984 Paralympics, achieving an honors degree at Harvard, winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University and working 18 months at the Whitehouse in the National Economic Council Dept. under the Clinton Administration, then to owning your own business. What are TWO WOW moments you’ve experienced since becoming an author?











First: I had to pinch myself the other day when I was signing books at a big event alongside two mega-bestselling authors: Terry McMillan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Waiting to Exhale) and Walter Mosley (Devil in a Blue Dress). They were so nice and easy to talk to. My mother would be so proud of me.
















Second: Recently I got to spend three hours with 150 women from a Church in Chicago working through the devotional guide that goes with Live Your Joy (see www.bonniestjohn.com/lyjdevotional.pdf). It was a blessing to interact with women as they found new ways to deepen their joy and their relationship with God! People were weeping as they released pain and grabbed onto joy. We all blessed one another. What greater joy can an author have than to watch people be transformed by what you have written?

My son, Isaac, has V.A.C.T.E.R.A.L. Association and has been through 39 surgeries to date. I’ll never forget the first time he met a boy who had four fingers on each hand like he did. He was so excited to meet someone that looked like him. Can you describe to me a moment you met someone like yourself? How did that affect you? Did it help you to feel like you weren’t alone – like Isaac? Did this affect your confidence muscle you talk about in your book?










Answer:
I remember going to an amputee support group when I was in high school. I made friends who were adults, from different countries, and with different disabilities. Some people were much worse off than me. I remember being at a pool party and helping other people to get in and out of the pool. Whenever I was in a crowd of disabled people, I was usually the most able—so I ended up carrying the gear or helping others. That was an empowering feeling!

*****I saw my son do this too. Early on he was in a medical facility that had kids that were blind, in wheel chairs etc. I saw him do the very thing you mentioned. I could relate so much with what you've shared****

The best part though was learning to joke about our disabilities, for example: When we ski, everyone leaves legs, arms, wheelchairs or crutches by the chair lift. Once for a joke on a sunny day, we moved David’s artificial leg (he’s white) and replaced it with mine (I’m brown)—and left a bottle of sun tanner next to it!

People who aren’t disabled take it so seriously and try to baby you. It’s so much more fun to laugh about it!



****Bonnie I SO AGREE with you on the fun factor. I can't tell you how many times Isaac has joked around about having 4 fingers on each hand. It's healthy and gets everyone laughing knowing we're all the same deep down. Boy could I tell you stories! Ha! Ha! I bet you have more to tell too!!*******

4.What books do you like to read to relax and/or be entertained? What authors inspire you?



Kathi Macias, author of How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I am Surrounded by Loose Canons? and My Son John. Not only are her books inspiring, but she really is the real deal. She has been a constant source of support, encouragement, and love ever since I met her. When I grow up I will be more like her, which means more like Jesus. Reading her books will make you laugh until you cry and give yourself more patience as you grow.

Margaret McSweeney, author of Pearl Girls, is another woman who inspires me. I call her the “Tasmanian Angel” because she is a whirling force for good. I met her in an elevator in Atlanta and we have just stayed in touch.



Her most recent book, Pearl Girls, is very uplifting in these difficult times with really short easy to read pieces by women of faith who have turned “Grit into Grace” just like an oyster takes the dirt that enters its shell and covers it with nacre to make a pearl. She features amazing women with vivid, bite-size stories. I love the one about the woman who gave up on dating and told God, “If you ever want me to get married again you better put him on my doorstep with a t-shirt that says “Sent by God.” Of course, it happens! Very fun and inspiring how we women who love God can be pearl makers and pearl wearers!


Could you please share some of your testimony with us? When God became very real to you and not just someone you read about in a book?


I accepted Christ into my heart as a child in Sunday school and was very reliant on God through middle school. I served on Altar Guild at the Episcopal school where I went and wore a silver cross.

At about age thirteen, however, I decided God wasn’t solving my problems fast enough and that I could do better. I proceeded to do it my way for many years after that.


It wasn’t until I was married and had a daughter that I hit the wall. You see, I had been sexually abused by my step-father from the age of two to the age of seven. So when my daughter hit these ages all the feelings I had stuffed down backed up and overflowed into my life like a broken toilet. There was no way I could be close and carefree with my daughter without being viscerally reminded of my own childhood horrors. I had to heal if I ever wanted to be a good mother. It was hellish.

After a lot of suffering, I finally began to realize the only way to get through it was to start working on my relationship with God. God could get me through, but only if God could get through to me. I had to learn how to let God get close to me.



My prayer life grew and expanded. I prayed regularly and spent time listening to God. I wish I could say that I became the person I would have been if I was never abused as a child. I didn’t. But I am a better person for admitting my weakness and my need for His love and guidance every day. We all have brokenness in one form or another—we are human after all. Sometimes the brokenness is the only door He can get into.

Do you have a say in choosing the covers of your books? How does that process go for you? ]



Book covers are VERY important to publishers and their sales teams. I try to help but not fight with them. I was surprised (but pleased) when they insisted on putting my picture on How Strong Women Pray and then putting it on really big for Live Your Joy.

The cover shot for Live Your Joy was something leftover from another photo shoot—something we just shot for fun at the end not knowing how it would be used. Very appropriate—it was a pure joy shot for no reason at all!










What surprises you most about your relationship with Jesus right now?


How much He is here for me, every minute, every day. It is so easy for me to forget and get busy. Lately I am working on worrying and praying less about the future and just being with Jesus right now. “Right now” with Jesus is more than enough.


Did you have obstacles to overcome writing Live Your Joy? If so, how did you over come them?

After I worked on the outline with my editor, I had ten key ideas about joy to write about. But I wanted to know how to communicate these ideas and what other people would think.


I set up a series of tele-classes on joy over a five-week period. On the first call the group made me realize that I didn’t have anything in my outline on how to get more joy right now! That is what they wanted. So we figured some things out and that’s what is in the opening of the book—Karen’s house, Michelle’s nephews, and “Little Man” are all stories from the teleclass.

Talking through my ideas by leading a workshop or test driving the ideas somehow helps me to learn more about what I am teaching.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process? What do you like the least?











***Star Bucks QUOTED BONNIE- on their cups!! How cool is that? I also LOVED what you said Bonnie.*****



I write in coffee shops with my computer. Escaping to a coffee shop for a few hours to write feels so decadent to me. Only a few times in my life have I gotten to escape to the woods and write. That is heaven indeed.


Writing is a lot of work…just putting down so many words takes time. I like to write with a writing partner. They can help me to clarify something I am trying to say but isn’t working. They bring different writing skills to the table and I learn more about being funny, writing clearly, doing research and more. As it says in Live Your Joy, learning to be helpable makes life easier and more joyful!

What keeps you sane in the middle of craziness? What phrase or scripture brings you serenity in the middle of these storms and the stress of life.











I rely on Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” when I am struggling with myself.

I remember Romans 8:28 “All things work for the good for those who love God and are called to His purpose” when I don’t like what is going on around me. It helps me to deal with challenges, roadblocks, and other people’s crazy behavior!

What three things are you very thankful for in your life that others might view as silly?



My bath tub! I love to soak and read. It restores me. I surround my tub with loofas, bubble bath, and candles.


My porch swing is another “zone” for me. I pray there, watch the trees, watch the bird feeder dramas unfold: blue jays, chipmunks, and smaller birds competing for seeds.




QUESTIONS I JUST KNEW YOU WANTED TO ASK BONNIE, BUT WEERE AFRAID TO SO I DID!!

1.You’ve been given 48 hours to hang out with any two people alive or dead in the history of the world. (Other than Jesus), What two people would you pick to hang out with? What would you do?


Solomon: I would like to learn something about true wisdom if I could.

















My mother who passed away a few years ago. We could go to a bookstore, get coffee and talk like we used to. I would tell her how much I love her.

You’ve just found a magic lamp and the genie in the lamp wants to grant you three wishes, what would your wishes be?



Of course I would wish for wisdom from God. But could a genie grant that?
Why not wish for a world where loving one’s neighbor as thyself was the norm? I was going to say world peace, but with a genie, we’d end up with a world dictator: peace but no love!

I would wish for everyone to know and love Jesus.


Its funny trying to think of wishes. They either seem small and selfish or getting in the way of God. For example if I wish that everyone on earth have food, shelter, healthcare, and meaningful work, would I be getting in the way of God’s plan to teach us to help one another and to grow closer to Him when we are facing trials?

If God could do all these things and doesn’t, who am I to play God? It probably wouldn’t make the world a better place.

2.You find yourself in a life threatening situation and need someone to save you/ who would you pick? Why? (you can pick anyone from, movies, cartoons, books, the sky is the limit).




Wonder Woman…I’d like to meet her!






3.What is a special quality, talent and/or event you’ve experienced that would surprise people?




I just got to model a sweater coat for Oprah magazine! I surprised myself by finding out that I could walk in 3 inch red spike heels even though I am missing one leg. It was very glam. See the November issue of O mag—on newsstands in October.


*****I'm SO EXCITED for you. I CAN'T WAIT to see you on the cover!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!*****


4.You’ve been granted the use of a time machine and can go back and visit TWO events in the history of the world. What two events would you pick and why?


Birth of Jesus, definitely! I would love to see the child, the angels, blessed Mary and Joseph. I am sure it would be more rough and rugged than we depict it at Christmas time!




I would like to go back to a time when I could sit for an evening with Jesus and just talk. I wouldn’t pick the Sermon on the Mount or the wedding at Cana because I would like to have the private time of just learning, listening, and soaking up the teaching in a small group. Maybe I would sit next to Mary in Martha’s house.

What were your favorite books you’ve read as a child?


I remember discovering Ben Franklin’s autobiography when I was in 5th grade. I was very impressed at how he organized his life to better himself everyday, was a self-made millionaire, and then became a scientist and statesman.



That inspired me. Like him, I could overcome not having a lot of money and set high goals for myself. My goals could be achieved with personal discipline, step by step, each day to increase my integrity, diligence, and more.



6.What movie most impacted you as a child? Why?











I liked Fame and Flashdance because they were about beating the odds and hoping against hope. Those kinds of stories inspired me to try hard even though the obstacles seemed insurmountable.

7.What T.V. shows were you passionate about growing up as a kid? You know the ones that you wouldn’t miss each week.



I never missed Fantasy Island and the Love Boat because I had no social life! I was always home on Saturday nights in Jr High. I was bused across town to go to a better school so my friends were far, far away. Even calling was long distance and I wasn’t allowed. I became a ski racer to escape my boring life!

8.Out of all the interviews, and shows you’ve been on where did you feel the most comfortable? Why? Which show were you the most excited to be on? Why?






This is easy: Life Today with James Robison made me the most comfortable. He and his wife bring in four guests at once and have a homemade dinner where everyone gets to know each other. Then you go to makeup and do your interviews one by one. No other TV show does that! It is so warm …lots of good Southern cooking, too.










The TODAY show is always very exciting. I have been on with Matt Lauer, Natalie and then finally with Hoda and Kathy Lee. When they filmed me praying for How Strong Women Pray I thought, “Wow, I am praying with millions and millions of people!” You can watch this clip on my web site in the video archive. The piece with Hoda and Kathie Lee for Live Your Joy is on the home page: www.bonniestjohn.com.

9.What is the most amazing place you’ve ever been? What made it so special? Please explain!

I was on a round the world trip in college: Japan, Taiwan, England, Hong Kong and Korea. I had been in fancy restaurants, seen the temples of Kyoto, took in museums full of China’s treasures, and more.











One day in Korea I spent an afternoon alone in a national park with giant rocks, flowing streams and pine trees. I was so happy and peaceful. I realized that I could be almost anywhere in the world. The trees had no language or cultural barrier.

The times I have spent in nature really listening and seeing make me the most happy. That is probably part of the reason I became a skier—I loved going to remote places to train in winter and summer. Nature can heal my pain, lift my spirit, and connect me with God in a way that nothing else does.

Realizing this made me understand I don’t really need to go far to be with God and be truly happy.

ANY FINAL COMMENTS YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH BONNIE?

One day a pastor was out weeding his garden when a member of his congregation walked by. He admired the pastor’s vegetable garden full of tomatoes and neat rows of carrots.

“God has given you a bountiful garden,” he said.













“Yes indeed,” agreed the pastor, “God provides the sun, the rain, the seeds and plants…but I also have to dig, plant, prune, and pull the weeds. God has so many gifts he wishes to share with us, but we must work in partnership with Him to receive these gifts.”



Joy is no exception. We have to roll up our sleeves and work with God to nurture and grow it. Joy is not just something that happens or doesn’t happen. We have to till our own soil to reap a crop of joy.

Joy is something we choose—or reject—with our attitudes, beliefs and actions. Tapping into the joy that God has for us does not come naturally to most of us. Growing up with an abusive step-father, being in and out of hospitals to amputate my leg, and other problems, I didn’t easily come to the habits of connecting to God’s gift of joy.



I had to make more room for joy by pruning back unproductive behaviors and weeding out thoughts that killed my joy day-to-day. My prayer is that you will reach out to God for the strength to live with more Joy despite whatever has happened to you or will happen to you!




FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A HARD BACK COPY OF BONNIE'S NEW BOOK LIVE YOUR JOY, LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THE INTERVIEW. DRAWING WILL BE OCTOBER 10th

CONGRATULATIONS ANGELA R. --You've WON a copy of Bonnie's Newest book Live Your Joy!!


****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****

14 comments:

  1. Great interview Nora and Bonnie. She is one positive person to listen too!

    Gail Mundy

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  2. Having a similar background, I would love to read your book. I need to learn how to let God get close to me. Please enter me in your contest.
    bfa73 at hotmail com

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  3. what a great lady! i'd love to read her books and i wish she was my next door neighbor :)

    angela r.

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  4. WOW!! Bonnie, you are such an inspiration and one of your favorite verses is my favorite also - Phil. 4:13. I am looking forward to reading you book.

    Nora it would be awesome to win your book on the 10th - seeing as how it's my birthday! LOL!!

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  5. Very interesting interview - I would love to read the book!

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  6. Bonnie is an amazing lady. Her books must be very inspirational.

    Marlene Rauch

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  7. Great interview, Nora and Bonnie. What an inspiration you are, Bonnie. I would love to read the book. It sounds awesome! Tisha

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  8. FACEBOOK COMMENT
    October 4 at 3:43pm

    Great interview with Bonnie St. John, what an insperation she is sking , writing. Betsy

    Betsy Hoffman Schaknowski

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  9. Bonnie sounds like such a great inspiration to others!! purposedrivenlife4you at gmail dot com

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  10. Love Bonnie's thoughts on joy! And a Starbucks cup quote - very cool!

    We posted about this at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2009/10/live-your-joy.html

    janemaritz at yahoo dot com

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  11. Great interview, Bonnie & Nora.
    I would love to win the book and read it!
    Ann K.

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  12. Sometimes I 'copy & paste' a part of the interview so I can comment on it but as I read through this one, I kept finding myself changing my mind about what to comment on. This book sounds like such a fantastic one to read and share with our ladies'group. We seem to keep forgetting where our joy should be coming from because we keep getting 'self' in the way!
    I'd like to take our group through this because I'm sure it will help us learn how to keep our focus on Him, from Whom the joy should come.
    "Joy is something we choose—" seems to be a hard thing to remember.
    Thanks for entering me in your drawing.
    Pam Williams
    cepjwms at wb4me dot com

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  13. I'd love to win!

    I would love to read your book about prayer, as well.

    Missing one leg sounds like an obstacle.

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  14. CONGRATULATIONS ANGELA R. You've Won a copy of Bonnie's Live Your Joy.

    THANKS to EVERYONE that stopped by to encourage Bonnie and meet such a special lady.

    THANKS BONNIE for stopping by and letting us get to know you.

    BLESSINGS

    Nora :D

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