BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

BOOK CLUB ENCOUNTERS - FEATURING ROBIN JONES GUNN


BIO: Author and Speaker Robin Jones Gunn
Just like Christy, Robin was born in Wisconsin and lived on a dairy farm. Her father was a school teacher and moved his family to southern California when Robin was five years old. She grew up in Orange County with one older sister and one younger brother. The three “Jones kids” graduated from Santa Ana High School and spent their summers on the beach with a bunch of wonderful “God-Lover” friends. Robin didn’t meet her “Todd” until after she’d gone to Biola University for two years and then on to Europe for an unforgettable season that included transporting Bibles to underground churches in the former Soviet Union and attending Capernwray Bible School in Austria.

As her passion for teenagers grew, Robin took on more opportunities to assist with the youth group at her church. It was on a bike ride for middle schoolers that Robin met Ross. After they married they spent the next two decades working together in youth ministry. God blessed them with a son and then a daughter. When her children were young, Robin would rise at 3am when the house was quiet, make a pot of tea and write pages and pages about Christy and Todd. She then read those pages to the girls in the youth group and they gave advice on what needed to be changed. It took two years and ten rejections before Summer Promise was accepted for publication. Since its release in 1988, Summer Promise along with the rest of the Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen series have sold over 2.3 million copies and can be found in a dozen translations all over the world.

Robin Jones Gunn
www.robingunn.com


1. What do you enjoy about doing a phone chat with a club? As opposed to doing it live.





























What I like about the phone chats with clubs is hearing all the women laughing at the same time. Usually when I do the phone chats the hostess does most of the talking, all nice and polite. Then someone in the group pops off with something and the whole group starts laughing. That’s a beautiful sound – women laughing together. You know that some of them are going through really rough stuff and at least one of them almost didn’t come that night. But there they are, all together, and the fellowship and the laughter is just what all of them need.


























I recently had a great time talking with a book club in South Dakota. They had just read “Sisterchicks in Sombreros!” so all the women wore sombreros and the hostess’ husband made Mexican food for them. They were great fun. I’ve included their photos, because they gave us the perfect idea for our special Book Club Package offer in my new online Shop.

The Book Club Package includes six autographed copies of “Sisterchicks in Sombreros!” a phone call from me to the book club and (are you ready for this?) six press-on Sisterchicks tattoos, (yes, they wash off in a few days).

All the details are at http://shop.robingunn.com/ I really hope some of your readers jump in and start their own little fiesta!

2. Please describe a book club experience that really moved you, encouraged you. Why did it touch you?



Several years ago I met with a book club in southern California that had read “Sisterchicks Do the Hula!” The hostess was from Hawai’i but had been in California for many years. After the delicious Hawaiian food and lively discussion our hostess said she wanted to give us a gift. She stood in front of the group and pushed a button on a boom box. A praise song began and she gave us the most beautiful, from-the-heart, original hula I’ve ever seen. We could see the story of the song in her elegant movements. I wasn’t the only one that needed a tissue. One of the women said that this is what we’re called to do as Believers. When we gather, each person brings what they have to give and together we offer it up as a gift of praise to the Lord. I left thinking I’d been to much more than a book club. It was a taste of heaven.

3. What sort of surprises have you experienced with “Live” in person book clubs?



Ha! Surprise is a good way to describe one terrific book club I visited in person in Memphis right after the release of “Sisterchicks on the Loose!” They had two big surprises for me. First, my cousin from Arkansas somehow heard I was going to be there. After arranging the details with the hostess, she drove for hours and then just walked in as if she were one of the regular book club readers. We hadn’t seen each other for years and I was stunned, as the photo shows. That book club got off to a joyful start. Then to keep the surprises going, those ladies invited Elvis to come sing to me! They said they wanted me to always remember the Memphis Sisterchicks and believe me, I always will.
***Robin, now that's a Book Club Event to Remember--The Pictures are Priceless!! Love your expression!! What a Surprise. THANKS for sharing this--What Fun!!****


4. What other experiences have you had with “Live” in person book clubs?




I’ll tell about one of the most unexpected live visits I made to a book club. I was going to get my hair cut at a new place because my favorite stylist had moved to a salon in a small town about 20 minutes from where I live. The salon is located behind a small café so you have to actually walk through the café to get to the salon. I didn’t know that, though. So when I saw the sign I opened the door, saw a group of women around a table and knew that wasn’t the salon. I walked down the block, past the neighboring building, then back the other way, then back to the cafe. I looked up at the sign and then opened the door and went in again. All of them had stopped their discussion and were just watching me go back and forth in front of the window.
As you might guess, they were a book club and yes, they were all sitting there discussing one of my books. (Awkward!)

5. Please explain your book club experience with me. Did they ask you a bunch of questions or let you talk? Or Both. Could you hear ok on the phone?











Usually the group leader asks the first few questions and then one or two others chime in with a comment or question. I’ve done a number of these sorts of call ins and so far I’ve been able to hear okay every time. Next week I’m doing my first web cam chat with a book club via SKYPE. I’m going to have to have to clean my office. Or at least the shelf right behind my desk. This is going to be a good thing in more ways than one!

6. Were book club members passionate about one of your characters and weren't happy about how you treated them?












You know, I met with one group over the phone that was more of a critique group than a book group. They had a lot of ideas for what I should do differently with my next book and where the one they read fell short. That was an oddish phone call-in. That was the only one I had like that. And no one was laughing. I think they took their work of evaluating very seriously.

***You are a GREAT sport!! and right about the critique group NOT being a book club experience. You have been on some wild adventures. Thanks for sharing this one.******


7. Did you learn something about your book that you hadn't expected to learn?



Yes. This happens all the time. Someone will say, “When you wrote suchandsuch I could relate because I know you were trying to say thisandthat and to me it meant . . .” I always know that has to be God’s Spirit at work because I often forget I even wrote suchandsuch and if I do remember what I wrote, I know I wasn’t trying to convey thisandthat. That’s always a fun part of getting fresh feedback. It’s what keeps storytelling alive for the readers and especially for the writers.



THANKS SO MUCH Robin for sharing all the GREAT pictures with us and telling about you interesting and unique book club experiences. I've really enjoyed your books and the many traveling journys you've taken me on.I wanted to repeat the fact that All the details are at http://shop.robingunn.com/

SPECIAL NOTE THE ON-LINE STORE WILL HAVE THIS AVAILABLE OCT. 3rd ****

CHECK OUT ROBINS TRAVELING PICTURES IN AN INTERVIEW I DID WITH HER-
CLICK HERE

BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOUR WRITING ADVENTURES!!

Nora :D
ACFW On-Line Book Club Coordinator


NOTE TO ALL AUTHORS,BOOK CLUB LEADERS AND MEMBERS. This is a NEW feature that I hope to publish weekly. I'd LOVE to hear from you about book club. Leave a comment and I'll contact you. I'd LOVE to talk about your book club experience here on my blog.

FEAR NOT TOMORROW, GOD IS ALREADY THERE - FIRST CHAPTER

Today's author is:


and the book:


Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There: Trusting Him in Uncertain Times

Howard Books (September 29, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Ruth Graham is the daughter of the revered American pastor Billy Graham. She has appeared on a variety of radio and television shows and is the author of the bestselling In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416558438
ISBN-13: 978-1416558439

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Trust at My Doorstep


Chapter 1




It had been a difficult few months. One of my children was struggling, and I didn’t know how things would play out. I was anxious, frightened, and continually preoccupied. I could imagine what might be ahead. The questions were relentless: What could I have done differently? Was it my fault? What could I do to change it? How could I protect my child? Was there another step I could take? I felt as if I were being sucked under by a whirlpool of scenes, conversations, and hypothetical outcomes. I lost weight. I battled headaches. I felt like I was constantly vibrating. The fear was overwhelming.


This particular day, the postman arrived at my door with a padded envelope. It was addressed to me in familiar back-slanted handwriting—something from Mother. Feeling the envelope, I knew it was too light to contain a book. What could it be? My birthday was still a long way off. As I tore at the flap and reached inside, I took hold of what felt like a long, narrow picture frame. Pulling it out, I stopped for a moment and stared. It was the framed print from the wall in front of Mother’s desk. In black calligraphy bordered by a flowering vine I read the familiar words: “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.”

Instantly, I was transported back to the mountain home of my childhood in Montreat, North Carolina. My mother’s plain wooden desk flanked by a tall chest of drawers and a bookcase took up much of one wall in her room. Always lying open on the desk, surrounded by various reference materials, was her well-marked, dog-eared Bible. On the wall facing the desk hung a collection of precious photographs and artifacts: a crown of thorns woven for Mother by the head of the Jerusalem police, a slave collar given to her by Johnny Cash, a rude wooden cross fashioned by my brother Franklin, photographs of loved ones and of those for whom she was praying. Centered above these artifacts was the print I now held. I’m not sure where Mother got it or who gave it to her, only that I cannot remember a time when it wasn’t hanging there like a banner.

I imagined my mother standing on a chair in front of the desk, reaching to take the print off the wall. Sending me such a gift was just like Mother. All my life, since I left home for boarding school in the ninth grade, she had been sending me letters filled with encouragement from the Scriptures—bits of what she was learning in her own study time or wisdom for some situation I might be facing. Now here she was identifying with my mother’s heart, sending me a poignant reassurance. We had not talked much about the circumstances of my struggle. Mother just intuitively knew I might need something like this—a reminder that God was working in our lives and that he cared about our future. I appreciated her sensitivity. She didn’t blame or condemn me; she didn’t unload a lot of advice. She just sent me something that had been of value to her, something that had reassured her, no doubt, as she had mothered us. Standing on my doorstep, holding that print, I felt the words penetrate my heart and mind, almost as if I had never seen them before, as if they were a message written directly to me. I read them again slowly: “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.”


Little Foxes

Since that day on my doorstep, I have faced quite a few threatening tomorrows, and I have battled fear and anxiety as resilient foes. Perhaps you have fought this same battle. We may experience moments of clarity, as I did reading my mother’s framed print, but then we return to daily life and to the struggle. We wonder how we’re supposed to “fear not tomorrow” in the worst-case scenarios of our lives: a frightening diagnosis, betrayal, separation from a child who has gone off to war, the loss of a job, the evaporation of our retirement, the drug addiction of a loved one, abandonment by a spouse, failure at our workplace, the loss of a home, a legal verdict that changes our lives, the death of a loved one, the exposure of a secret, the loss of our possessions to flood, earthquake, tornado, or financial disaster.

Fear not tomorrow? It is easy to say it but another thing to live it out. We drown in our questions: But what about . . . ? How will I . . . ? What if . . . ? But if I can’t even . . . ? Who will . . . ? And what does it mean that God is already there? Where? In our crises, God can seem silent, remote, or worse, even imaginary. You may feel as I have at times. I have real problems, and they are too big, too hard, too painful for me to solve. I don’t have time for theology. I’m in trouble here! I’m inadequate, and I need something real. Something practical. Something secure. Give me some solutions, some guarantees. Can’t you see that I’m terrified of tomorrow?

Fear and anxiety can exhaust us. King Solomon writes about the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV). Fear and anxiety are like that. Fear can wipe us out, burn up whatever energy we have, and hinder us from entering into the full experience of life that God desires for us. Certainly, fear and anxiety can become so severe they incapacitate us. But the majority of us live with fear and still function. I have heard fear compared to a jack hammer buzzing just outside the window. The noise is constantly there. When you sleep, the jack hammer quits, but when you wake up, it starts again, sapping your strength and attention until you’re no longer really living—just enduring.

Fear takes the air out of life. When we live with fear, we lose our capacity for fun and spontaneity. We can’t love others wholeheartedly. We become like that frog being boiled slowly. The water gets steadily hotter until we realize, “I’m not having any fun. I have no joy. I’m not alive. I’ve forgotten how to laugh.” During the difficult period with my child that I described above, I experienced fear in different ways. At times, I would have trouble functioning; at other times, I would be able to get up in the morning and do what was necessary. Up and down. Fear was that steady buzz or hum. I wasn’t able to hear the music of life clearly. Everything was filtered through that fear.

My mother was a master at finding ways to enjoy life despite the intense pressures she faced. She knew how to move fear out of the way and keep joy alive. Stories of her antics and pranks have become the stuff of legend in our family. As a young parent, for instance, I would tell my children, “Now don’t draw on yourselves.” Then I would leave the kids with Mother, only to find them covered in inky smiley faces that Mother herself had drawn! Once Mother made a mudslide for the grandchildren on the side of a steep embankment near our Montreat house. She turned on the hose and then promptly took her turn as the first one down. When much older, she accidently drove her car down that same steep embankment. Thinking she was stepping on the brake, she had stepped on the accelerator instead. She and her friend escaped unscathed, but afterward, Mother arranged for a stop sign to be staked at the bottom of the incline, lest other wayward drivers be tempted to take the same route!

Life is a gift from God to be enjoyed. Fear suffocates our spirits and robs us of that gift. It is human to experience the emotion of fear. Fear entered the human experience in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve rebelled against God and hid themselves from Him. But Peter describes Satan as a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” and I believe fear is also Satan’s paw print (1 Peter 5:8). It is true that some kinds fear can help us—the kind that keeps us from stepping into oncoming traffic, for instance, or putting our hand on a hot stove. At times, God may use fear to keep us from making wrong choices or wrong decisions in life. But these moments of fear are different from what the Bible calls the “spirit of fear,” which I might describe as the condition or attitude that takes hold when our emotion of fear consumes us (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). As Paul writes, the spirit of fear does not come from God.

Shifting Our Focus

God is concerned about the way fear affects our lives. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment” (1 John 4:18 NKJV). Fear involves torment. Torment is not God’s will for us. God is committed to our peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you” (John 14:27 NKJV). We read of Jesus, “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14 NKJV). God has ordained peace for us (Isaiah 26:12). He did not design us to live in fear and anxiety but in peace. In Scripture, we find God repeatedly urging, commanding, people not to be afraid. God is not condemning us for feeling the emotion of fear, but He doesn’t want us to get stuck there or to set up camp in torment. The question is when we are at our wit’s end, how do we “fear not”? At such moments, peace can seem nothing more than an abstraction. We struggle even to imagine the experience.

Often, when we experience fear, we have allowed our circumstances to overwhelm or alter our perspective. Our perspective has become skewed. I have discovered that defeating fear in my life begins with shifting my focus. I take my eyes off the circumstances, off the source of my fear, and put my focus on God. Instead of mulling over the “what ifs” in my future—instead of looking ahead with anxiety, trepidation, dread, or even horror—I make the choice to look at God, to consider His character, and to trust that the One who loves me is “already there.” The message on Mother’s framed print helped me to make that kind of shift as I faced uncertainty with my child. I had been focusing on tomorrow; the words on the print brought my focus back to God.

Shifting our focus is first a decision, then a process. When we turn to God, our decision opens a door for peace and reassurance to enter our hearts. The Bible says of God, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV, emphasis added). When we focus on God, peace follows. I find that as I concentrate on God, as I examine facets of His character, as I spend time with Him in prayer, sharing my heart and quieting myself to listen, as I meditate on what His Word says about Him, as I read about Jesus and observe the way He handled life—as I “stay” my mind on God—my problems begin to lose their power over me. Instead, I become absorbed in the power, the beauty, and the love of God. He is my focus now. I am learning about Him and getting to know Him. And the more I learn, the more I discover I can trust Him.

In the coming chapters, we will be doing just what the verse above from Isaiah says—staying, or fixing, our minds on God. We will examine some of God’s attributes and consider His ways. We will study the character of Jesus, for in learning about Jesus, we learn about God. Scripture calls Jesus the “express image” of God (Hebrews 1:3 NKJV). Jesus Himself told His disciples, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 NKJV). If we want to know what God is like, we can look at Jesus. We can ask: How did Jesus deal with people? What were His relationships like? How did He respond to people’s distress? As we focus on God this way, we can expect God’s peace to crowd out the fear in our hearts.

For some of us, focusing on God, or considering that He is “already there” in our tomorrow, is not exactly a comfort. We may be afraid of God. What little we know of Him, or what we don’t know of Him, frightens us. We fear He is out to lower the boom on us, that He is looking for our faults and eager to point out our failings. We are afraid of His power. Afraid of His judgment. Afraid of being overwhelmed by Him. It is our human nature to fear what we don’t understand, and we don’t understand God. He is unfathomable. He is so much more than we can imagine—far more. He is not accountable to us. He is mysterious, and mystery can be frightening. On seeing the Lord on the throne, Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah saw his frailty in light of God’s almightiness; he was awed by God’s holiness and glory.

But Scripture also calls God “Abba,” an intimate word for Father that we would translate “Daddy” (Romans 8:15). While God is overwhelming, He is also tender with us. In the New Testament, we see Jesus touching, healing, and relating intimately with people. Bette Midler recorded a song with the lyric, “God is watching us from a distance.” That line is only half-true. God is watching us. But not from a distance. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23 NKJV). God comes close. He makes His home with us. He longs for us as a lover for his bride. We take God for granted, we don’t develop the relationship, we ignore Him, we don’t spend time with Him, and yet He stays with us, longing for that intimacy. God makes covenant with us, and He keeps it. To me, that is one of the most reassuring truths about God. He will never give me up. Never desert me. Never leave me alone. Never (Hebrews 13:5).

As we learn more about God in these pages and spend time focusing our attention on Him, our relationship with Him will deepen. The Bible promises that when we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4:8). As our relationship with God grows, so will our trust in Him. We will discover His constancy. When everything around us is unstable, God is stable. His character is consistent, unchanging. His love is secure. My prayer is that the more you learn of God and the closer you get to Him, the more you will be able not only to trust Him with your tomorrow but also to take comfort in the fact that He is the One who is already there.


Overcoming Our Misperceptions

Part of our challenge in learning to trust God involves overcoming misperceptions we may have of Him. If my view of God is not accurate, then my trust in Him will be more hesitant than hopeful. Often our picture of God is colored by our experiences with our own fathers or with other figures of authority in our lives. If your father was cold and demanding, then you may see God that way. If your father was gone, as mine often was, then you may see God as far away or busy with other things. If an authority figure was angry or abusive, then you may see God the same way and want nothing to do with Him. We are relational beings, and as such, we are hardwired to measure God by our experiences with significant people.

I did not always view God as someone with whom I could be comfortable. As I shared, my father was gone much of the time, fulfilling his calling to preach the gospel. I knew my father loved me; I knew I was important to him. But I also knew the world needed him, and for many years, I saw God as being similarly occupied with others and unreachable. I have since learned that God is not like that.

In my book In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart, I share in detail about my life, my failures, and some of the ways God met me in my brokenness and redeemed it. I tell the story of what it was like to go home to Montreat after a major personal failure. Driving up the mountain to my parents’ home was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I had no idea what they would say to me or how they would respond. I had gone against everyone’s advice. As I saw it, I had failed myself, my family, my children, and God. I felt deserving of condemnation and rejection. What would my parents do? Would they say they had told me so? That I had made my bed and now would have to lie in it?

As I approached the top of the mountain, I saw my father standing there in the driveway. I parked the car and opened the door to get out, but before I could as much as set my feet on the asphalt, my father was at my side. He wrapped his arms around me, and I heard him say, “Welcome home.” His acceptance instantly silenced my shame. I was broken, but I no longer feared. My father had embraced me at my worst and loved me anyway. I experienced grace. I would not compare my father with God, but that day my father showed me in a very practical, gracious way what God is like.

Through that experience, I was able to get a glimpse of the unconditional love God has for me. It has taken me a while to get to a point where I finally see God as “Abba,” as Daddy. Learning to know God intimately has been a process. But through the fog of doubt, anxiety, and fear, I do see Him now as warm and embracing. He loves me, enjoys me, and wants me to know His joy. He will do anything to draw me in. He wants my heart. He wants my trust.

Many years ago I taught a Bible study entitled “Enjoying God” for the women at my home church. I was convinced most of us did not enjoy God. Even the title of the study made us a bit uncomfortable. Was it sacrilegious to “enjoy” God? Wasn’t He austere and stern? Holy and unapproachable? I wanted to explore the possibilities.

The first week’s homework was to imagine crawling into God’s lap and calling him Daddy. I think many were slightly put off by the assignment. Some had to deal with the damaged image of an earthly father. Some had difficulty seeing God in such an intimate way. Each week the assignment was the same. Gradually, I began to hear reports of breakthroughs. Some people took longer than others to connect with God, but we sensed God doing something profound in the group. My own life changed over the course of that study as I too began to see God intimately—as a secure place of comfort and peace. As I focused on Him, God was chipping away at my misperceptions, helping me to open my heart to His love. And He can do the same for you.

Why, God?

Our misperceptions of God can also be formed in the trials and heartaches of life. You may have a long scar of pain running through your life—a spouse leaving, the loss of a child, bankruptcy, illness, addiction, things that take the breath out of you. Perhaps you feel that God abandoned you in those experiences. That He must not care about you. That if He loved you, He wouldn’t have let you go through all that hurt. You wonder, “Why should I trust Him now?”

Why, God? This is a real question we ask when life happens and things seem to go badly. Why are You letting my life unravel? Don’t You love me? Didn’t You promise to protect me? How could You let this happen? In the valleys of life, we can feel as if God has betrayed us. That He isn’t trustworthy, as we once thought. That we’ll never again have a stable or secure place to stand. When devastation occurs and we can’t see God anywhere, our trust in Him can crumble to dust. We may even reject Him for a time.


I’ve lived through personal events that have left me reeling. I have written about suffering in a broken marriage. As the marriage began to come apart I couldn’t “feel” God. I couldn’t hold myself together. I described the way I felt back then: “Raw. Lonely. Exposed. Like an egg without a shell.” I wanted to know why those circumstances were happening to me. Perhaps you have felt this way too.

I’ve seen loved ones suffer through crushing experiences, and I’ve asked God why. Why did my friend’s first grandchild die just hours after birth? Why did a young missionary couple’s two-year-old child drown in the backyard? Why was my friend diagnosed with lung cancer though she never smoked a day in her life? We witness or live through destruction caused by tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. We call them “acts-of-God,” and we wonder why God would allow them. Fear not tomorrow? How can we do anything but fear after all the devastation we’ve already seen?

God is not threatened by our why. People say we can’t ask why, but we can—we should. We’re in good company when we ask why. Jesus, Job, David, Jeremiah, and many others we would call “heroes of the faith” have asked why. Asking why is part of the human experience. When we ask God why, we are expressing our innermost emotions, our hurt and disappointment, and God wants us to do that. He works with honesty. He is not threatened by our questions and doubts. He invites us to express our feelings. We’re in a relationship with Him—He doesn’t want us to shut our emotions down. While God already knows how we feel, we need to know; and often we discover what is in our hearts as we express ourselves freely to Him.

But we can also get stuck at why. While asking why can be a stimulus for further exploration, understanding, and honest grappling, sometimes it can become a defense—a way to keep God out and to keep intimacy with Him at bay. We can go round and round in circles with why, never really intending to get anywhere. We can get comfortable with why. We would rather stay where we are than do the hard work of learning how to trust God again. And if we’re not careful, some people will keep us there. They will feed our why as long as we let them. At a certain point, what we actually may need is someone to pull us forward and say, “Hey, let’s explore why you feel this way. Let’s not give up on God.”

God invites us to wrestle with our why, our questions. He wrestles with us, as He wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 32:24–32). But finally the angel of God touched Jacob’s thigh and put it out of socket. I can hear the angel saying, “It’s enough now. Let’s go forward.” My Uncle Clayton Bell, my mother’s brother, died suddenly of a heart attack at age sixty-eight. He loved God passionately and was pastoring a thriving church. Those who loved him asked God why. Why take this dynamic man at his prime? Why not leave him here to serve You? Aunt Peggy, my uncle’s wife, suffered greatly, but there came a time when I remember her saying, “I’m going to lean into the pain.” Whatever her questions, she was going to “lean,” trusting God and expecting Him to be there.

At some point, trusting God becomes a step of faith. No one can prove God. You will have to make the choice to trust Him for yourself. Making that choice doesn’t mean you have settled your questions; you may not see those questions resolved in this life. But you can make the decision to try trusting God again. You can take a step forward with all your unresolved questions and invite God to reveal Himself. It’s okay to live with what I call “unfinishedness.” I think about my mother and how “finished” she looked in her relationship with God—as if everything were settled, everything clear. But when you read Mother’s poetry, you discover she was anything but finished. She simply learned to live with her questions and to trust God anyway.

Walking Forward

Why not bring your questions along as you walk forward to discover more about God in this book? You can invite God to work with you as you read. Ask Him to help you in your battle with fear. Ask Him to help you overcome your misperceptions of Him so you can trust Him for tomorrow. God longs to reveal Himself to you. Jesus said about those who love God, “I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21 TNIV). God wants us to see Him for who He really is.

We don’t have to get it all at once. Trusting God is a process. Just as there are stages of life, there are stages of faith. Trust comes bit by bit. Our part is to be willing—willing to move, willing to try. God wants our willingness. Someone once said you can’t steer a car that isn’t moving. If we can just make the choice to move, God will meet us. I want to challenge you. Open yourself up to the possibility of what God can do in your life. Let Him show Himself worthy of your trust. Walk forward into these pages and decide for yourself about God. See if His intimate love is real. See for yourself. Don’t let your questions or misperceptions be hindrances. They don’t have to stop you from moving. Let’s get to know God better. Let’s discover Him. We can bring our baggage, our questions, our “why” right along with us.

****************************************************

Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There:

Trusting Him in Uncertain Times

Ruth Graham


Howard Books

West Monroe, Louisiana




[Refer to P4P regarding inclusion of purpose statement.]

Our purpose at Howard Books is to:

Increase faith in the hearts of growing Christians
Inspire holiness in the lives of believers
Instill hope in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!


[Howard Logo] Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

www.howardpublishing.com


Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There © 2009 Ruth Graham


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Howard Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.


Published in association with Ambassador Literary Agency, Nashville, Tennessee


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data TK


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GIVE AWAY - THINK NO EVIL by JONAS BEILER - FIRST CHAPATER

Today's author is:


and the book:


Think No Evil: Inside the Story of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting...and Beyond

Howard Books (September 22, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Jonas Beiler grew up in a strict and traditional Old Order Amish family during the 1950s. Now he is the cofounder and chairman of the Angela Foundation. He is also a licensed family counselor and founder of the Family Resource and Counseling Center in Gap, Pennsylvania.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $23.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (September 22, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416562982
ISBN-13: 978-1416562986

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter One: Gates Wide Open


It has become numbingly familiar. A man walks into a church, a store, a dormitory, a nursing home, or a school and begins shooting. Sometimes there is panic, sometimes an eerie quietness. But always bodies fall, almost in unison with the shell casings dropping from the gun. And always there is death. Senseless, inexplicable loss of innocent life. Within seconds, we begin hearing reports on our Blackberries or iPhones. Within minutes it is “Breaking News” on CNN, and by the end of the day it has seared a name in our memories. Columbine. Virginia Tech.

Or for me, The Amish Schoolhouse Shooting.

As I write this, it has been nearly three years since our community watched as ten little girls were carried out of their one-room school and laid on the grass where first responders desperately tried to save their lives. As a professional counselor and the founder of a counseling center that serves this area, I saw firsthand the effects this traumatic event had on our citizens. And as someone who grew up in an Amish household and suffered through my own share of tragedies, I found myself strangely drawn back into a culture that I once chose to leave. I know these people who still travel by horse and buggy and light their homes with gas lanterns, yet as I moved among them through this tragedy I found myself asking questions that, surprisingly, led me to back to a hard look at my own heart. How were they able to cope so well with the loss of their children? What enables a father who lost two daughters in that schoolhouse to bear no malice toward the man who shot them? And what can I learn—what can we learn—from them to help us more gracefully carry our own life burdens?

That last question is what prompted me to attempt to share what I have learned from the families who lost so much that day. The Amish will be the first to tell you they’re not perfect. But they do a lot of things right. Forgiveness is one of them. In my counseling, I have seen how lesser tragedies destroy relationships, ruin marriages, and turn people’s hearts to stone. Life throws so much at us that seems unfair and undeserved, and certainly the shootings at the Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania were both. And yet, not a word of anger or retribution from the Amish. Somehow they have learned that blame and vengeance are toxic while forgiveness and reconciliation disarm their grief. Even in the valley of the shadow of death they know how to live well, and that is really the story that I want to share—how ordinary human beings ease their own pain by forgiving those who have hurt them.

It is a story that began decades ago when I knew it was time to choose.

-----

Little has changed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania from the time I was a young boy to that fateful October day when shots pierced the stillness of our countryside. Towns like Cedar Lane and New Holland and Gap and Iva might have grown slightly, but as you drive through the hills and valleys along White Oak Road or Buck Hill Road, you’ll see the same quaint farms and patchwork fields that the Amish have worked for generations. Like most Amish boys, I learned to read in a little one-room schoolhouse and could hitch up a team of horses by the time I was twelve years old. I didn’t feel deprived because we didn’t have electricity or phones and it didn’t really bother me to wear the plain clothes that set us apart from my non-Amish friends. As far as I was concerned, being Amish was fine with me, except for one thing. I loved cars. I mean I really loved them. I couldn’t imagine never being able to drive one, but knew that’s what was at stake if I remained Amish.

In Amish culture, you may be born into an Amish family, but you must choose for yourself if you want to be Amish and that usually happens somewhere between the ages of sixteen and twenty one. You may have seen documentaries about Amish teenagers sowing their wild oats for a year or so before deciding to leave or stay within the Amish faith. While it’s true that Amish young people are given their freedom, in reality few teenagers stray very far from the Amish way of life. But all eventually must choose, and once you decide to stay and become baptized as Amish, you can never leave without serious consequences including being shunned by other Amish, even your own parents and relatives. I couldn’t imagine never being a part of my loving family, but I also felt a tug to explore life beyond my Amish roots, and I worried that it would hurt my father if I chose to leave. I remember once asking my dad why we did the things we did and he told me it was all about choice. We choose to live the way we do. It is not forced on us. So when I finally told him at age fifteen that I did not want to stay Amish, I know he was disappointed, but he was not harsh with me, nor did he try to talk me out of it. He respected my choice, which has profoundly shaped my thinking about the Amish. You can always trust them. They live up to their word. If they say they will do something, they will do it. You may have heard the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, you would never hear that from an Amish parent. Whatever they teach their children, they back it up with their actions. My dad told me we had a choice and when I made a choice that he obviously wished I wouldn’t have made, he did not turn his back on me. He taught me an important lesson the way most Amish teach their children: by example. Many years later, in the wake of the tragic shooting, I would see Amish mothers and fathers teach their children about forgiveness the same way.

I left the Amish community, but I never left my family, nor did they abandon me. Because of that, I too would learn about forgiveness from my father’s example. Most of my brothers and sisters made the same decision to leave for their own reasons. But my parents remained Amish, and much of my world view is still seen through the metaphorical front windscreen of an Amish buggy.

-----

During those winter months after the shooting so much about our community was covered in stillness. The shortening days felt somber and subdued as we were constantly reminded of the girls that had perished. Normally the sights and sounds surrounding my home in Lancaster County filled me with a sense of nostalgia: the rhythm of horse and buggies clip-clopping their way down our back country roads or the sight of children dashing home from school through a cold afternoon had always been pleasant reminders to me of growing up as a young Amish boy. But that feeling of nostalgia had been replaced with a solemn feeling of remembrance.

Lancaster County is a unique community, the kind of which seems to rarely exist in America anymore. Many of my friends come from families that have lived in this same area for over two hundred years, some even before our country was formed—often we are still connected by friendships held long ago by our parents, or grandparents, or great-grandparents. You will find roadside stands selling produce or baked goods, and it is not unusual for them to be left unattended, the prices listed on a bucket or box where you can leave payment for the goods you take. The vast majority of the county is farmland, and in the summer various shades of green spread out to the horizon: beautiful forests line the hills and drift down to waving fields of corn and tobacco and hay.

In the fall months many of the small towns sponsor fairs or festivals, some established for seventy-five years or more. They were originally conceived for local farmers to bring and sell their harvested goods, but like much of the commerce in this area, they were also social events—an opportunity to get caught up with friends you hadn’t seen in a while. I can imagine that back in the day they were joyous times, the crops having been brought in, the community coming together to prepare for a long winter. Nowadays we still go to the fair every year and sit on the same street corner with all of our friends, some of whom we haven’t seen all year but can count on seeing there at the fair. The parade goes by, filled with local high school bands and hay wagons advertising local businesses. Our grandchildren vanish into the back streets together, another generation of friendships, riding the Ferris wheel or going through the haunted house. I like to think that in thirty years they will be sitting on that corner, with their children running off to ride the rides with my friends’ great-grandchildren.

The Amish people live easily among us: good neighbors, hard workers, a peaceful people. They attend the same fairs with their children. Their separateness goes only as far as their plain clothing, or their lack of modern conveniences like telephones and electricity, or the fact that they have their own schools. I have many good friends who are Amish. While they choose to live their lives free of cell phones and computers, they still walk alongside us. They mourn with us when we lose loved ones, and we with them. We talk to them about world events. They volunteer on our local fire brigades and ambulance crews and run businesses within our community.

When the media converged on our community on that fateful October day, I guess I was an ideal person for the media to talk to: someone who grew up in the Amish community, now a family counselor familiar with the effects of grief and tragedy on people’s lives. So I served as a contact for the media, doing countless interviews and sitting on various panels, almost all of which were directed at the Amish response of forgiveness. It immediately became the theme for the media and the millions of people who watched in their homes or listened in their cars—this unbelievable ability to forgive the murderer of innocent children. But tragedy can change a community, and I wondered how the acts of one man would change ours.

Like many individuals, I had already experience my share of personal turmoil over things I could not control. I knew that when these overwhelming experiences of hurt and loss occur, the very core of your being is altered. In fact, having experienced these tragedies in my life, and being counseled through them, led me to pursue becoming a counselor myself. Eventually I went back to school to do just that, and I studied quite a bit on my own as well. In May of 1992, just up the road from Nickel Mines, my wife and I opened the Gap Family Information Center (later it became the Family Resource and Counseling Center), a place where people from our community can come to find healing from a variety of ailments, whether physical, emotional or spiritual.

As a trained counselor I spend a lot of time listening to people pour out the pain of their lives and can see with my own eyes how it has affected them. Nearly every time I speak with a couple whose marriage has been torn, or visit with a family who has lost a child, I am reminded that there are some hurts in life that never completely disappear.

But now, after the shooting, I understand even better how tragedies can affect individuals and communities. I think back to places like Columbine or the areas in the south affected by Hurricane Katrina and I can relate to the trauma they faced and continue to live with. Our community felt shattered after the shootings in that small schoolhouse. Sometimes, as I drove those back country roads or stopped to talk to Amish men, I could hardly bear to think about the pain those girls’ parents felt, or the innocence that our community had lost. But tragedies can also bring communities closer together, if forgiveness is allowed take hold, and if any good can come out of our loss it is this unique practice of forgiveness that characterize the Amish response to evil and injustice.

Word of the Amish communities’ decision to forgive the shooter and his family spread around the world through the media in a matter of days (ironically, from a culture with little or no access to the media). This in itself seems like a miracle to me—if you or I wanted to market a product or a concept to the entire world we could spend millions of dollars and take years and still probably could not accomplish it. Yet the Amish, who do not own phones or computers, captured the world’s attention with a simple, preposterous act. It was almost as if they were illustrating the lyrics of that chorus from the Seventies: “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

While the public was fascinated with the Amish take on forgiveness, they didn’t quite know what to do with it. Some people refused to believe that anyone could offer genuine forgiveness to their children’s killer. They suspected the Amish were either lying or deluding themselves. Others believed the forgiveness was genuine but thought the stoic Amish must be robotic, lacking the normal emotions experienced by you and me, in order to offer up such a graceful sentiment.

Neither is the case. Both misunderstandings find their origins in our culture’s false perception of what forgiveness truly is, and the state of mind of someone offering such unusual forgiveness. The Amish are neither liars nor zombies. They are just like you and me and offer a sincere forgiveness with no strings attached, no dependence on any reciprocating feelings or actions. But they also hurt as deeply as the rest of us over the loss of a child, or a loved one. True forgiveness is never easy, and the Amish struggle with the same emotions of anger and retribution that we all do. But they chose to forgive in spite of those feelings.

-----

About a year after the shooting I heard a story about one of the young girls who had been in the schoolhouse when the shooter entered. She was a survivor. She, along with her family and her community, forgave the man who killed those girls. But forgiveness does not mean that all the hurt or anger or feelings associated with the event vanish. Forgiveness, in the context of life’s major disappointments and hurts, never conforms to the old Sunday-school saying: “Forgive and forget.” In reality, it’s next to impossible to forget an event like the shooting at her schoolhouse.

This young survivor was working in the local farmer’s market when she noticed a man standing quietly off to the side of her counter. As she tried to concentrate on her work she found herself growing more and more agitated over the man’s presence. He seemed to be watching all the girls behind the counter very closely, occasionally starting forward as if he were going to approach, then stopping and standing still again, always watching and fidgeting with the bag he carried with him. There was something eerie about him. Was it the way he stood, or how intently he seemed to stare at them?

All around him the farmer’s market bustled with activity. The Amish were often the center of attention for first-time visitors to the market, so the Amish girl was somewhat used to being stared at, but something about that particular guy made her want to hurry the customer she was working with and then disappear into the back of the store. The difference between a curious stare and the way that stranger looked at her seemed obvious and stirred something inside her from the past.

Meanwhile, other customers walked between the long rows of stands, eyeing up the goods, making their cash purchases. The vendors took the money from each sale and crammed it into old fashioned cash registers or old money boxes. The floor was bare cement smoothed by years of wandering customers. The exposed ceiling showed iron cross beams, pipes and electrical wires. The whole place smelled of produce, fried food, and old books.

For many people outside of Lancaster County, farmer’s markets are the only place they interact with the Amish and their conservative dress—the men wearing hats, mostly black clothing with single-colored shirts and long beards, the women with their head coverings and long hair pulled into tight buns. Amish from Pennsylvania often travel to New York City, Philadelphia or Baltimore to sell their wares: fresh fruit and vegetables, home baked pies and cookies, quilts and handmade furniture. For some of the Amish that is their main interaction with people outside of their community as well. The Amish are hardworking, provide quality products, and almost all are outgoing in that environment and give friendly customer service.

But this particular girl, only months removed from the shooting that took place in the Nickel Mines school, got more and more nervous—she found her breath coming shallow and faster, so much so that her own chest rose and fell visibly. She looked around but no one else seemed to notice the man or her reaction to his presence. Her gaze darted from here to there, first looking at him, wanting to keep an eye on him, then quickly looking away if he looked in her direction. She tried to help the customer in front of the counter but concentrating was difficult.

Then she saw him approach. He strode forward, fishing around for something in his bag, then sticking his hand down deep and drawing an object out with one fast pull.

The girl cried out and fled to the back of the stand, shaking.

The man pulled the object out of his bag and placed it on the counter. It was a Bible, a random gift to the workers at the farmer’s market stand. He disappeared among the hundreds of browsing shoppers. The gentleman had no idea the scare he had just given the girl. No one outside the stand had noticed that something intense had happened. Everything continued on as normal—the shoppers wandered and the vendors shouted out their sales to the lingering crowds.

But in the back, the traumatized girl wept.

Not too long before, her schoolhouse had been hemmed in by police cruisers and emergency vehicles while the sound of a handful of helicopters sliced through the sky. And the thunderous crack of rapid gun shots had echoed back at her from the rolling hills.

Forgiveness is never easy.

-----

During those solemn winter months following the tragedy in our community, my wife, Anne, was running errands in the countryside close to the place where the shootings had taken place. That particular area of southern Lancaster County, about sixty miles east of Philadelphia, was an alternating blanket of farms and forest. The trees stood bare. The fields in November and December and January were rock hard, and flat. Where spring and summer bring deep green and autumn blazes with color, winter often feels quiet and stark.

Anne, my wife, also grew up Amish, and we both understood the questions blazing up within that community in the wake of the killings: Should their schools have more secure steel doors with deadbolts to keep intruders out? Should they install telephones in the one room school houses in case of emergency, a serious break from their traditional decision to shun most modern conveniences? Should the gates that guard the entrance to most of their schools’ stone driveways be kept closed and locked to prevent strangers from driving on to the premises?

Anne came to a stop sign at a “T” in the road. She could only turn right or left. The roads rolled with the gently sloping landscape or curved along the small streams. A handful of scattered homes broke up the farmland that seemed to go on almost indefinitely. But as she paused at that intersection preparing to turn, she noticed something: directly in front of her was a one room Amish schoolhouse, not the one where the shooting took place, but one of the many within that ten mile radius.

Most of those schools look the same: a narrow stone or dirt lane leading from the road and up to a painted cement block building with a shingled roof and a small, covered porch; a school bell perched on the roof’s peak; separate outhouses for the girls and the boys. In some of the schools’ large yards you can see the outline of a base path where the children play softball. Some even have a backstop. The school grounds often take up an acre or so of land in the middle of a farmer’s field, usually donated by one of the student’s parents, surrounded by a three- or four-rail horse fence.

Yet there was something about this simple school that made my wife stop her car and park there for a minute. Part of it had to do with her thoughts of the children at the Nickel Mines school and all they had been through. She was also affected by visions of the parents who had lost children and their long road ahead, knowing as she does how heart-wrenching it is to lose a child. But on that particular day, in the wake of all the questions brought up within the Amish community about how they would deal with this disaster, there was one thing that immediately stood out.

The front gate was wide open.

We have all seen what happens in a community when people allow unforgiveness to rule their hearts. Lawsuits abound, separating the perpetrator and their family from those who were wronged, and in this separation the healing process is slowed dramatically. When forgiveness is withheld walls are built within a community and division occurs, leading to isolation and further misunderstanding. Anger and bitterness take hold.

The parents of those girls who were killed, along with their family members and neighbors, decided not to allow the shooting to further separate them from their neighbors. There were no lawsuits filed by the victims’ families against the shooter’s estate or the emergency services or the government, as is so often the case. They would not permit anger or fear to drive them into installing telephones, modern conveniences that their way of life had survived so long without. They would trust God to protect them, leaving the gate open to their hearts and to their communities, and move forward with forgiving hearts.

Given what happened, could that really be possible?

******************************************************************
Think No Evil
Inside the Story of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting . . .
and Beyond


Jonas Beiler
with Shawn Smucker


Howard Books

West Monroe, Louisiana


[Refer to P4P regarding inclusion of purpose statement.]

Our purpose at Howard Books is to:

Increase faith in the hearts of growing Christians
Inspire holiness in the lives of believers
Instill hope in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!


[Howard Logo] Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

www.howardpublishing.com


Think No Evil © 2009 Jonas Beiler


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Howard Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.


Published in association with Ambassador Literary Agency, Nashville, Tennessee


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data TK


ISBN 978-1-4165-6298-6

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


HOWARD and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Manufactured in the United States of America


For information regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact: Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or business@simonandschuster.com.


The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event, contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com.


Edited by Cindy Lambert

Cover design by TK

Interior design by TK

Photography/illustrations by TK


[Permission information regarding Bible translations used (See "Bible Version Lines" list) TK]





LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THIS BOOK FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A HARD BACK COPY OF THIS BOOK!! Read my REVIEW of the book HERE --DRAWING OCT 5th

WE HAVE A WINNER - CONGRATULATIONS MARK!! Thanks for leaving a comment. This is one powerful book!


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THINK NO EVIL by JONAS BEILER with SHAWN SMUCKER - REVIEWED


Think No Evil
By Jonas Beiler with Shawn Smucker
Published by Howard Books
ISBN# 678-1-4165-62968-6
213 Pages


Back Cover: The Amish will be the first to tell you they’re not perfect. But they do a lot of things right. FORGIVENESS is one of them.

A one-room schoolhouse sat amid the gentle, quaint Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. It made such a picturesque scene with its wide, welcoming front porch and white clapboard fence, set peacefully among rolling green farm fields and filled with Amish children settling into their desks after running and playing outside.

Until a gunman entered the school.












Review: After such a tragedy, how could the Amish not think of doing evil to the man that shot and killed their innocent little girls. It was an amazing site to behold for the world who takes an eye for an eye. Revenge is mine this world says—watch out. Forgiveness is the choice the Amish families made that tragic day on October 2, 2006. “We forgive because we can not forget…God commanded them to forgive seventy times seven.”

The author, Jonas, tells of how the peaceful Amish community quickly sought to comfort the shooters wife and his two small children. The Amish knew they had nothing to do with the act done to their children.

I found it almost unbelievable as I read how the Amish community—who tries to avoid the outside world and their influence as much as possible—was bombarded by the media monster after the killings by having cameras everywhere wanting to know every single detail of the tragedy.

The author says, “From the beginning…they saw this horrible tragedy as a way to bear witness to the world about the radical forgiveness they practice, which was learned from Jesus, who said of those who nailed him to a cross, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.'"

Jonas also relates ”…The Amish were wise enough to tear down a 'monument' that would remind them...of the pain dealt them by one man...” The author asks the question “Am I willing to dismantle those things that have caused me bitterness and pain in my own life?”

Great question! This is one amazing story of an ultimate, unbelievable event of forgiveness and love, not only to the killer of their children, but to the killers’ family and to a community that embraces violence.

This will definitely give you a deeper understanding into the Amish community and how the world watched and responded. You’ll just have to read this for yourself - it will touch you deeply. You won’t look at forgiveness the same.

Nora St. Laurent
Christian Fiction on-line Magazine Columinist


READ FIRST CHAPTER --CLICK HERE -- LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THE BOOK FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY!!

****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

SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD: by ELSIA MORGAN



About the Author
Elisa Morgan is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of more than fifteen books, including the best–selling What Every Mom Needs and Mom's Devotional Bible. Elisa has served as CEO of MOPS International since 1989. She is also the publisher of MomSense and FullFill magazines and is a frequent contributor to Christianity Today. Elisa is married to Evan (vice president of strategic development for RBC Ministries, known internationally for Our Daily Bread, and founder of christiancourses.com). They have two grown children and one grandchild and live in Centennial, Colorado.



What is the premise behind your new book, She Did What She Could?


Most of us care deeply about the needs around us – poverty, injustice, everyday concerns of those in our families and in our offices and in our neighborhoods. But faced with the challenges of getting food on the table and children to and from activities and keeping up with our jobs etc, we feel more than a little overwhelmed. Who has the time or the energy to start another nonprofit or to participate in yet another celebrity-help-the-world-athon? We conclude we have to do something BIG to make a difference. Not true. We don’t have to do something BIG to make a difference. In a Bible story where Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus with a beautiful gift of perfume before his death, Jesus applauds her action saying, “She did what she could.” We can make a difference every day by simply doing what we could in the given moment before us.

When did the idea for this book/movement come to you?



I’d been reading what I call the “Girl Stories” in the gospels – stories where a woman is the main character. I was stopped in my tracks by Mary’s acting out her love for Jesus and by his pairing her action with the gospel. Mary lived loved. She acted out her faith by doing something with who she was and what she had in a moment that mattered. At the same time I was reading that story, I was suddenly overwhelmed by issues in our world like the HIV-AIDS pandemic and poverty and needs everywhere I turned. I began to think about the power of one of us acting and then another and another. I began to prayerfully wonder – what if I did what I could – just like Mary did? And then each of us did what we could? The whole world could be changed!

What reasons do you think members have for not serving?


Lots of folks don’t participate due to the busyness of life and the perception that unless we do something BIG it won’t make a difference. We feel guilty that we can’t do MORE. We feel inadequate because we aren’t more godly - or because of something hidden in our past. We feel incompetent because we aren’t trained. We’re tired and overwhelmed. And then there’s the fact that lots of us aren’t even “members” of a church. We’re not sure what to do with church – even though we love Jesus. We have a million struggles that keep us from “doing”. SDWSC gives a bite-size offering to everyone to participate in living out our faith and making a difference.

Do you feel that many church members are intimidated by those who are very involved at church?


You bet. If you’re not in the “in crowd” or gifted with public gifs like teaching or are marginalized in some way, it’s WAY intimidating to step up and say, ”Hey, I’d like to help.” SDWSC welcomes ALL to join in and act. It refreshes those who are weary in well-doing as well.

In the book, you point out that this message of everyone doing what they can is Biblical. What story are you referring to specifically?


The story is told in Mark 14 but is also told in Matthew and John as well. Just before Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of all humankind, Mary of Bethany took a jar of nard, a very expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus – as a symbol of anointing his body before his death. In a moment when the gesture would mean the most to him. You get the impression that Mary hadn’t really planned out this action. It seems more spontaneous. And while the nard was expensive, that wasn’t the main point. Mary acted out of her understanding that Jesus really was the Christ and he really loved her. She wanted to give back. She took what she had – nard – and acted with it in a moment that mattered to Jesus and to the world. She did what she could.

You’ve shared your message with the MOPS organization. What has the response been so far to the SDWSC (She Did What She Could) movement?


Moms are passionate about being the best moms they can be. They’re also passionate to make a difference in their world. They know that they may not be able to do something GIANT in the day to day of raising children. SDWSC gives them a methodology for acting in a way that matters in their daily lives. With a neighbor or a coworker. With a child. To care for the earth. To reach out to someone who has less and needs more. Moms have pasted the SDWSC flare on their Facebook pages and are telling the SDWSC stories, encouraging others to do what they can as well.

How do you hope churches and ministries will use your message to mobilize their members?

Those who’ve never served can be invited to join in with the practical – doable – message of SDWSC. And those who are weary in well-doing can be encouraged that Jesus doesn’t ask us to do EVERYTHING or ALL we could but rather WHAT we could do.

How do you hope readers can change their lives with your message?

She did what she could (SDWSC) is a mantra that rules my days as opportunities come before me. I run each through the grid of SDWSC. Is it something that I can uniquely handle? Is it a moment that matters NOW? Will I make a difference if I do WHAT I could – not ALL or EVERYTHING I could? I hope and pray that readers will do the same. She did what she could. When I do what I could and you do what you could and we do what we could – we can change the world. We can be the body of Christ in action, on the earth, demonstrating individually and together what it means to live loved.
________________________________________



She Did What She Could
by Elisa Morgan
(Tyndale House Publishers)



She Did What She Could
By Elisa Morgan
Published by Tyndale
ISBN# 978-1-4143-3378-6
100 Pages


Back Cover: Most of us care. We really do. We care about poverty and injustice, about orphans and the sick. And yet, weighed down by the everyday load of bringing home a paycheck, putting food on the table, and taking care of our family demands, we question our ability to make a difference. Bombarded by one celebrity help-the-world-athon after another, we shrug our shoulders in futility and do absolutely nothing. Enter SDWSC. Based on the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume in Mark 14, SDWSC provides overwhelmed, yet service-seeking, significance-starved readers a realistic response to the seemingly unmeetable needs around us.
Five letters. Unthinkable power.

But what if we did . . .
Something?
Just one thing.

The thing that matters more than anything else in that one solitary moment.
What if we did just that?

What if?
S•D•W•S•C
Five letters that have the power to change your life, free your spirit, and transform your world!
Elisa Morgan

REVIEW: Wow, for such a little book this packs a powerful punch. Elisa Morgan focuses on the story where Mary washes Jesus feet with expensive perfume. The author talks about it from every angle. I didn’t realize there was so much to see in that one innocent, yet gutsy act on Mary’s part.

The first chapter talks about the fact she did what she could do, what if I did what I could do? What would that look like? What I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that Elisa made it personal. She talks about painless things that we can do in our everyday life that would impact it for Jesus!! Simple things that can make a big difference to someone God puts in your life that day...someone you may never see again...someone you could touch and no one else would know about... something only you could do. It’s simple, but doable - and powerful!! This book will change your life if you let!

Elisa gives examples after every chapter of small things that you can do for people that come into your life; things that would make a big difference to them. There are only 100 pages to this book, but it can be used for a personal bible study or a group bible study. You can read this book all in one shot and then go back and break it apart, or use it as a devotional by reading one chapter at a time. It’s a versatile book that I know will be used in my life in many different ways. You’ll have to check it out and see how it fits into your life, and how you can impact the people that God puts into your life.

Nora St.Laurent
Christian Fiction on-line Magazine Columnist

A TASTE OF FAME by EVA MARIE EVERSON - REVIEWED


















A Taste of Fame
By Linda Evans Sheperd and Eva Marie Everson
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-3209-7
360 Pages


Back Cover: Is America ready to meet the Potluck Catering Club on reality TV?
The women of the Potluck Catering Club have a growing business. They even became the subject of a budding filmmaker’s class project. Problem is, they didn’t read the fine print when they signed off on his documentary. When he enters the club in the reality show, The Great Party Showdown, the ladies of Summit View, Colorado, must head to the Big Apple for the unexpected adventure of their lives.

Between navigating New York City, dealing with cutthroat contestants, and trying to maintain their close friendship in the surreal world of reality TV, the Potluck women must keep their eyes on the prize—a cool million dollars—and work together if they’re going to make it back home in one piece.

REVIEW: All the women of the Potluck Catering Club are caught off guard when Nelson, a budding filmmaker, tells them that they have been chosen for a great opportunity for their catering business. They are going to be part of a cooking TV reality show in New York City. Everyone is shocked! How did this happen? They soon discover that the contracts they signed with Nelson gave him the right to submit his film into the cooking competition. They soon realize that this could be a good thing if they make it to the final round and win - there is a tremendous amount of money involved. It takes a sacrifice on everyone’s part to participate in this competition for the next several weeks. Can they make it, will their families and jobs still be there when they get back?

It was great fun to read about how a reality show affects individuals and their families. We see it on TV, but to get to the nitty gritty of it. It’s stressful hard work to make one of those shows. Not only do they have to come up with a party theme and all that will be eaten at the event, but they have to bring all the stuff to the location and set it up too!!

This book has colorful characters and interesting situations to overcome. This book is fun, interesting and makes for an enjoyable time. And as an added bonus to this book, there are the recipes in the back. Most of the food creations used on the TV show are n the back of the book for you to try, so you can have your own catering fun!!

This is the second book in the Potluck Catering Club series. I enjoyed this book even through I didn’t read the first book to this series. I look forward to making some of these recipes - you will too!! Click HERE to see the Potluck Cookbook that these authors have written. Sample recipes are included.!!

Nora St. Laurent
ACFW On-Line Book Club Coordinator

GIVE AWAY - NORA INTERVIEWS - MAGGIE BRENDAN



Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? How did you start your writing career?


When I was in the 3rd grade I would devour books and I love the smell, the print of holding a book in my hand and dreamed of being a writer.

Has being an author been everything you thought it would be? If not, what has surprised you the most?


It’s more than I thought and a whole lot more. There’s so much that goes into getting a book published. I think the thing that surprised me the most is that just because you get edits on your manuscript, it doesn’t stop there. There character sketches to write, timelines, marketing, book signing and speaking. But all of these things are good things but they take a lot of time to stay on top of.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you’re working on right now? What is the title and when do you expect it to come out?

I’ve just finished A Love of Her Own, which will release June 2010. I’m working on another series called The Blue Willow Brides.

Why did you decide to write under the name of Maggie Brendan? What are the advantages?


I wanted a name that sounded like an Irish romantic name. Lott just didn’t work.
I also wanted to maintain a way to write non-fiction under my real name. I almost went with my maiden name, O’Neal, I’m part Irish, but I really like my pen name. Maggie was my mother’s name and my granddaughter’s name is Maggie. I was nicknamed Maggie years ago by sister-in-law and it stuck.

What three things are you most thankful for in your life that others might think silly?


Of the personal things-I’m thankful that I have good hair and for my friendly personality. I hope that doesn’t sound egotistical for what others might call silly. I’m thankful for autumn, the smell of burning leaves and a clean sparkling home.

I loved your descriptions of the Colorado Rockies and how Crystal and the boys made through the country taking the cattle to market. Have you been to the Colorado Rockies? How do you know so much about cowboys and what it takes to run a ranch?


I lived in Colorado for eight years when my children were small, but I read about the Rockies and fell in love with them after reading Zane Gray novels. I read a lot of westerns growing up and loved all the TV westerns. I guess all of the information just stayed with me, but I do reach as well. I always say that I always wanted to be a cowboy.

I also loved how you described the parties they had in the country. I felt like I was there. Even through it was a beautiful country side and an amazing party there were still mean people like April to make a person feel like they could crawl up under a rock. I loved how you described Crystal's dress and how she felt at the party. This is a woman who was raised to be a social butterfly. How did you get your knowledge of the southern belle up bringing and how the country folk, cowboy’s social parties were like? I enjoyed those scenes.


Thank you for saying that, Nora. I’m a born and raised southerner but was definitely not raised with “advantages” in my life, so I chose to pretend that I lived her lifestyle. Lol! I’m a great observer of people, as most writers are. My background just lent itself to the way country folk spoke and I’ve read so many western novels and movies that I just soaked it up!

What fascinates you about writing about this time period and a southern belle? I could tell you enjoyed it by the way you described things. Did you grow up here in Georgia? Have the same kind of training as Crystal? Do tell!!


I enjoy history and I love the way genteel people spoke to each other and how they were willing to lend a helping hand at the drop of a hat. Sadly, I’m not sure these elements exist much anymore. I’m very visual so I notice everything—a well appointed table, a look of sadness in someone’s eyes, the smells around me, etc. I didn’t grow up in Georgia but Mississippi. When my children were small, we lived in Colorado and we did a lot of hiking in the mountains and visiting the historical towns and sites.

What movie most impacted you as a kid? Why?


That’s easy—The Ten Commandments. Since I am a visual, sensory sort of gal, the movie impressed upon me the omnipotence of God and his power but most of all that He is Holy! I still think it was incredible, especially when you look at the cinematography that they used back then. It was impressive.

If you had 48 hours to hang out with any TWO people (besides Jesus), alive or dead in the history of the world who would you hang out with and what would you do?


I would have loved to have hung out with Adrian Rodgers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. He passed away in 2005. I would sit and listen to him talk about God’s word. He was truly a gifted speaker and fine Christian leader. I used to listen to his radio program, Love Worth Finding that can still be heard 24-7. His sermons really impacted my faith walk like no one else.


Another person I would love to spend time with is John Denver. His love of nature in his music and in all his endeavors for the environment reflects my views of nature, too. I don’t know if he was a Christian or not, but I really loved the words in his songs. He was a great talent.

It was incredibly hard to narrow my answer down to two people when there are so many wonderful writers, artist and theologians.

You find yourself in a life threatening situation (kind of like in your books HA! Ha!), and you need someone to save you, who do you pick? It could be anyone from books, movies, TV, etc. the sky is the limit.





This is delicious! I would want Sam Elliot as my hero, hands down. He’s all man and a “real cowboy”. If he weren’t available, then Dale Midkiff from the movie Love Comes Softly. I think he’s wonderful.







What are your two favorite places to shop?


I love TJMaxx and Kohl’s. But if I lived in Colorado, I’d have to say Shepler’s Western Wear.


If money isn’t an object what is your favorite place to eat breakfast and dinner? What would you order?





The Little Mountain Lodge in Breckenridge. It’s a bed and breakfast and they serve delicious omelets, pancakes and fresh fruit.



For dinner, I’d probably order whatever was the special for the day as it changes and a reservation required. It was the most beautiful places that I ever stayed in Colorado other than Telluride.

















Someone has given you access to a time machine and you can go back and visit two events in the history of the world, what two events would you experience? Why?





I would love to have been an eye witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That answer needs no explanation. Can you imagine that?? Wow!






I think the Westward Movement of the US would have been an incredible event which would include the Lewis and Clark Expedition, The Oregon Trail, The Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railway Expansion. That would have been a great time to be living and be a part of the actual history of the West.



What was the last movie you saw in a theatre? Did you like it? What snacks did you eat?











That would be “Yes Man” with Jim Carey. I had popcorn and coke. I just can’t watch a movie without that.

You’ve just found a magic lamp and the genie has granted you three wishes. What are your three wishes?

Oh, my—I love not to have any financial worries, perfect health and maybe be only 35 again.

What TV shows were you most passionate about as a kids? You know the ones that you couldn’t miss each week?











I enjoyed Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger and Mickey Mouse Club. I wouldn’t miss Roy Rogers.

If you could live anywhere on the planet where would you live? Why?






I’d probably want to live in Colorado or Montana. I love the Rocky Mts. and I love the crisp air, low humidity, the pristine snow and the hush quietness outside after a snowfall. That’s incredible.


ANY FINAL COMMENTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE WITH MY READERS????

I enjoy meeting new readers and hope your readers will stop by at my next book signing which will be at the LifeWay Kennesaw store in Marietta, GA. I hope if they read my books they will be transported to the wonderful historical world of the West. Thank you, Nora, for the interview.




Thanks Brenda for stopping by and letting us get to know you and your books better. We are looking forward to having to speak to us at book club next year.

Blessings on your writing adventures.

Sincerely,

Nora :D
ACFW On-Line Book Club Coordinator


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