Friday, November 21, 2014

Dr. Klaus-Deiter John tells of trusting God to help the people of Peru

An interview with Klaus-Dieter John,
Author of I Have Seen God 

Imagine being medically trained at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world — Harvard and Yale — and turning your back on a lucrative medical career in private practice to care for the poor. As Klaus-Dieter John writes in his book, I Have Seen God (Monarch Books/November 27, 2014/ISBN: 978-0857215741/$16.99), it was a dream he and his wife, Martina, shared since before they met.

I Have Seen God tells of how the Johns were able to follow their dream to open a first-rate medical facility for the Indians of the Peruvian Andes, some of the world’s poorest people. The hospital’s name, Diospi Suyana, means “we trust in God” in Quechua, the native language of the people it serves. It is a testament to their experience that with God the impossible can happen.

Q: Tell us how you came to titling your book, I Have Seen God.

When I was a student some of my friends were atheists. After some of my long discussions with them, I would wonder whether God was real or if it was just wishful thinking on my part. There were also times when I felt afraid of death. One night I walked across a field. It was so dark and the wind was blowing, and I just shouted at the top of my voice, “God, where are you?  I want to see you!” In the history of our hospital, God has answered my prayer and become very visible to me and to hundreds of thousands of people who have heard the story.

Q: What led you into the medical profession? Have you always wanted to be a doctor?

As a teenager I read books by Paul White, an Australian doctor who served in Africa for two years and later went on to publish books on his experience as a “jungle doctor.”  I was inspired by what he wrote and wanted to lead the kind of interesting and adventurous life he led as well.

Q: How did you meet your wife? How did you know you were meant to be married and serve together?

I met my wife when I was 17 and she was 16. Both of us shared exactly the same vision for our future: We wanted to get the best medical training available and then work as missionary doctors for the rest of our lives.
At the time, I had been elected president of our high school, and she was a leader of a group of girls at the school. It was through our interactions there that we fell in love. We also led a youth group together at our church and both studied medicine at Mainz University.

Q: Both you and your wife have medical training from some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Why did you decide to use your expertise to serve the poor?

There are so many great medical needs worldwide, but only a few doctors invest their entire lives to helping the less fortunate. As a matter of fact, statistics show there are only about 1,000 doctors who work as career missionaries, relying totally on incoming donations. In Europe and the U.S. there are approximately 5 million doctors total. So 1,000 is hardly anything compared to the need.

My time spent at Harvard University’s Massachusetts General Hospital and Yale University as a surgical resident opens doors for me when I travel around the world to share our testimony. For instance, I frequently have the opportunity to speak at secular universities, companies and charity organizations. Some people will take me more seriously when I talk about my faith in Jesus Christ if they know I’ve had success in the secular/academic circles from which they come.

Q: Can you share more about the situation in Peru and why such a large segment of the population is vastly ignored and without healthcare?

Thirty million people live in Peru, and half of them are indigenous. These people, called the Quechua, are the descendants of the ancient Incas. They have been neglected and exploited for centuries and have a reduced life expectancy. The majority of them lives in adobe (clay) houses and are many times without window glass, running water, electricity or a sewage system. This clearly impacts their health and longevity.  

Q: What does the name of your hospital, Diospi Suyana, mean?

In Quecha, Diospi Suyana means “we trust in God” or “God is waiting for you.” Two interpretations of that expression are possible. Both of them express the intentions of the ministry.

Q: How does the mission hospital care for the needs of the people in Peru? How many people do you help on a regular basis?

The Diospi Suyana Hospital is certainly among the best-equipped mission hospitals in the country, and it is quite comparable to a modern hospital in the U.S. or Europe.

So far, we have treated 140,000 patients who have come from all 25 states of Peru. Currently, there are twelve doctors working at the hospital. We could see many more patients if only we had more doctors.

This year, we can treat up to 150 patients per day in the western treatment style, which consists of CT scans, endoscopy, digital X- ray, ICU, sophisticated lab facilities, etc. Our patients contribute only 20 percent to our annual budget. The other 80 percent of our budget comes from donations.

Q: What spiritual aspects do you bring to the medical care?

We start every morning at the hospital with a church service. Since we opened seven years ago, we’ve celebrated 1,600 church services. We teach the patients who attend that despite the best medical care, we are destined to lose the fight against physical death eventually. Only Jesus Christ, who walked out of His tomb three days after being crucified, can offer us eternal life. Almost all of our patients have seen the popular Jesus Film in our waiting room.

Q: What led you to write a book about the founding and continuing mission of Diospi Suyana?

The book was first published in Germany, which, along with the rest of Europe, is really a postmodern and post-Christian culture. In Western Europe only 4 percent of people go to church. I wanted to share with the world the story of Diospi Suyana because it shows non-Christians evidence that God is real. It also encourages Christians of all denominations and nationalities you can experience God even in a globalized world driven by money and power.

Q: I Have Seen God was first published in Germany and became a bestseller there. What made you want to bring this message to America? There’s a special story behind the translation of the book. Please share the story with us.

Despite of its admittedly strange title, it has sold tens of thousands of copies since it was released in 2010 in the German book market, which is a small market compared to the U.S.

One morning, I was sitting in my office and thought it would be so nice to publish the book in English so we could bring its message to the English-speaking world. I remembered an English lady who had helped us years ago with some translations for our webpage. I sent her an email inquiring as to whether she was aware of my book and, if so, whether she would consider helping with a translation.

Meanwhile, unknown to me, she was in her house more than 8,000 miles away, looking at a copy of I Have Seen God she had bought for a friend sitting on her desk. She suddenly thought an English translation would be an excellent idea. She stopped what she was doing and prayed about it. The next time she turned on her computer, she discovered my email asking her to help me. She did the whole work free of charge. When I gave my first public presentation on our story in England recently, she was present, which was very meaningful. 

Q: There are many books out there about the amazing work missionaries are doing around the world. What makes I Have Seen God different?

That may be true in the U.S., but in Europe there are hardly any books on the market with stories like that of I Have Seen God. The dominant feeling is “mission books” don’t sell. Because of this, I wanted the book to have wide appeal so it can be read and understood by someone who perhaps has never been to church, as well as a Christian who might need encouragement in his or her faith, or just to learn what God is doing in Peru through Diospi Suyana.

I have heard stories of people in Europe using the book to share the Gospel message with their non-Christian friends and colleagues.

Q: You had quite the battle to fight, overcoming government regulations.  What were some of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?

In June 2006, the Peruvian Ministerio de Cultura (Ministry of Culture) enforced an immediate halt to construction, claiming we hadn’t obtained all the required licenses. The penalty was set at $700,000, a sum that could have put the whole Diospi Suyana organization under. Through mysterious ways, my wife and I received an invitation to the office of the Peruvian First Lady, Mrs. Pilar Nores de Garcia in July. By the time, our 70-minute presentation about Diospi Suyana was over, the Peruvian First Lady had decided to become our sponsor. As soon as this news became public, the Ministry of Culture withdrew all their charges against our organization.

Then in January 2013 we wanted to import brand new materials for our dental lab worth up to $117,000. The shipment was blocked in customs for some very shady reasons. Eventually we asked for help through our website, and within days about 4,000 emails from 20 countries were sent personally to the Peruvian Secretary of Health, and a secular TV-channel and two leading newspapers wrote stories about what was happening. Eventually customs gave in, and our supplies were delivered.

Q: You have raised millions of dollars to do this work. How did you do it?

So far, I have given just more than 1,900 hundred presentations in 19 different countries about the work we do at Diospi Suyana. Neither I nor my wife ever asks for money when we speak. We simply share our story, pack our bags and say goodbye. I also always pray before I get up to speak to a crowd that God will use my presentation for His purposes. And I share the same story everywhere I go — whether it’s a secular or Christian audience. God has blessed this approach abundantly.

To date, our ministry has received more than $21 million in cash donations and medical equipment. Two-thirds of these gifts have come from private individuals, and the other third has been donated from 180 companies from around the world, including the U.S., Mexico, Peru, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and many more countries.

In Germany 25 percent of the overall population has seen, read or heard about our ministry through TV, printed press and radio interviews we’ve done. We’ve been blessed with media coverage in 15 countries. In October last year I gave the main lecture at the inauguration of the 4th World Congress of Pediatric Surgery. There were doctors from every continent present.  I concluded my 20-minute message with this statement:

“This evening, there are Hindus, Muslims and Christians, agnostics and atheists gathered in this congress centre. I have the greatest respect for your beliefs and convictions, but if you were to ask me how I personally explain the astounding development of Diospi Suyana, I would tell you I am sure it was God. It was His work. It was the power of Jesus Christ!”

Q: What do you hope readers will take away with them after reading I Have Seen God?

I hope they will walk away with a new or renewed sense that God is real, that it is worthwhile to pray to Him, and that as Christians we can be very outspoken about our faith even to non-Christians because there is nothing better than to share the Gospel.

For more information about Klaus-Dieter John and the work of the Diospi Suyana Hospital, visit www.diospi-suyana.de.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Frank Peretti meets a modern day Treasure Island! {And Kindle Giveaway!}

Welcome to the series launch of J.A. Marx's Destiny series. Book one, Destiny Defied, is a chilling tale of freedom from oppression and the Light that overcomes the dark.

J.A. is celebrating the launch of her series with a Kindle giveaway and a Facebook author chat party on December 2. 


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  One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Destiny Defied by J.A. Marx.
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 12/2. Winner will be announced at the Destiny Defied Facebook author chat party on December 2nd. RSVP for a chance to connect with J.A. Marx, to chat about the book, as well as to win some great prizes!

destiny-enterbanner
{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 2nd!


Desitiny Defied

{MORE ABOUT DESTINY DEFIED}


Book One in The Destiny series.
A dramatic shipwreck emancipates Riki Hammad, but the island where she finds refuge is compromised. Unless she finds a power truly great enough to defeat her dark past, she will choose death over returning to captivity. Lord Vétis, high priest of a cultic underground, will stop at nothing to reclaim their chosen one. Using black magic, he manipulates Riki and her four self-assigned bodyguards, triggering a battle that consumes the entire island. The underground will never allow Riki to live out her dreams of a normal life…something she has never known.
J.A. Marx

{MORE ABOUT J.A. MARX}


J.A. loves writing embattled spirit novels — adventure and suspense with supernatural undertones. On the side, she dabbles in non-fiction articles and e-zine editing. J.A. owes many thanks Jerry Jenkins and the Christian Writer’s Guild for their support and education.
Find out more about J.A. at http://online.jamarx.net.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sarah Ladd talks about A Lady at Willowgrove Hall

An Interview with Sarah E. Ladd,
Author of A Lady at Willowgrove Hall 
 
When the noose of your secrets begins to tighten, it can cut off any hope for freedom and love in the future. Letting the light of truth sever your unhealthy tie to the past is a major theme of award-winning author Sarah E. Ladd’s book A Lady at Willowgrove Hall (Thomas Nelson/October 7, 2014/ISBN: 978-1401688370), the third and final installment in the Whispers on the Moors series. Set in Great Britain’s Regency era, A Lady at Willowgrove Hall perfectly conveys the romantic sensibilities of that time.

Q: A Lady at Willowgrove Hall is the third book in the Whispers on the Moors series set during the Regency period. What years are considered to be Regency, and what were some of the historical events that took place during the time period? 

The Regency era took place in England from 1811 to 1820. It was called that because when King George III was deemed unfit for the throne, his son, the Price of Wales, ruled in his stead as the Prince Regent. England was engaged in the Napoleonic War against France, and they were also at war with the American colonies in the War of 1812. The Industrial Age was in full swing, and the Romantic Movement was shaping the literature, art and music of the day.

Q: What about the Regency period interested you most and made you want to write about it? 

I have always been a fan of Romantic British literature and enjoy the Romantic Movement in general, which, again, fell during the Regency era. I have read the literature and the poetry of this time period extensively, and those works had a profound influence on me. If I had to pick one favorite author, I would have to choose Charlotte Brontë, although Jane Austen is a very close second.

Change — socially, politically and economically — was rampant during the Regency period. It was also a time where the great excesses of the wealthy class sharply contrasted against the rioting and social upheaval among the poor. All in all, it was a setting ripe with opportunities for compelling story-telling!

Q: Both of your main characters struggle with secrets from their pasts. Why do you think people try to hide from their past mistakes when most of the time, freedom is found in living in truth? 

In this book, the characters kept secrets out of fear. They were well aware of the potential repercussions if their secrets were ever exposed, so they went to great lengths to hide them. While they thought they were protecting themselves, they were actually creating their own prisons. I think this is one of the big reasons people keep secrets from those they love — they are afraid of how others will respond. In order to connect with others, though, you must be willing to be vulnerable and give others the opportunity to look beyond your past.

Q: How does holding secrets isolate us from others?

In the novel, one of the characters, Mrs. Trent, says, “Some secrets are like a noose. The more you resist, the more they strangle you.”  She said this in reference to her own painful experience with a secret she had been harboring. She was fearful of what others would say if the truth ever came out, and it kept her from forming relationships with others.  She allowed the secret to fester and gain power over her, which led to a life of loneliness. In this sense, she cut herself off from others. When we are so afraid to share the truth about ourselves with others, we are not allowing others to know the “real” us, which prevents us from those truly meaningful relationships that bring so much joy to life.

Q: During the Regency period, a woman was defined by her reputation. Is that still true today?

It is true; during this era a woman was defined by her reputation. A soiled reputation could lead to a life of poverty and isolation. Today, while it can still be difficult to rise above a damaged reputation, the repercussions are not as harsh. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that women are not as reliant upon men as they were during the Regency. Women have options today, whereas during the Regency period, women were completely dependent upon the men in their lives; if their reputation was soiled and they could not find a good husband, they were essentially condemned to a difficult, lonely life.

Q: Your heroine, Cecily, is thrust from her home by her father because of a childish, albeit rebellious, act. What advice do you have for those who are dealing with rejection? 

Rejection is very painful, and that pain can leave lifelong scars. Sometimes rejection can come as a result of a specific action, and other times there is no reason. If we look to others to find our value or purpose in life, we will be disappointed. People will let us down, but if we look to God to find value and worth, we can find rest and acceptance.

Q: Feeling dismissed by her earthly father taints the way Cecily imagines God’s response to her bad decision. How is this true of all of us? 

Children are undoubtedly shaped by their relationship with their parents. They look to their mother and father for acceptance and guidance, so when a parent rejects them, they could fear no one could possibly accept them. For Cecily, this was definitely the case, and she felt so tarnished she didn’t think God could love her. All of us experience rejection at some point in our lives, and what is important to remember is God will not turn his back on his children.

Q: What do you hope readers learn from A Lady at Willowgrove Hall about God’s love and redemption? 

Even though someones past may be shameful or full of secrets, there is hope. God can take the darkest pasts and turn them into bright futures. No one is so terrible they cannot find redemption in Gods love and grace.

Q: Your books beautifully capture the atmosphere of British culture. Have you been able to travel to Great Britain? How did that affect your writing?

When I was in college, I went to England and Scotland for a three-week course in British literature. While there, the class visited several of the major literary attractions and studied them in-depth. Even though I was not writing at the time, the trip had a profound effect on me, and it was truly a life-changing event.

Q: You have two careers: one as a writer and one in strategic marketing and brand management. What advice do you have for other aspiring writers who choose to keep their “day job”? 

Don’t give up — it can be done!  The biggest piece of advice I can give is to plan ahead. Make a schedule of writing times and goals and stick to it — write every day, even if it is just for fifteen minutes. The good news is it gets easier with practice. So set goals. Make mini-deadlines for yourself — and be sure to track your progress! You’ll be surprised at how far you can go.

Q: Readers have fallen in love with your Whispers on the Moors series. Will there be a fourth book? Is there anything you can tell us about what might come next?

A Lady at Willowgrove Hall is the final book in the Whispers on the Moors series, but I am happy to say I am hard at work on another series titled Treasures of Surrey, which will be published by Thomas Nelson. The first book, The Curiosity Keeper, will release the summer of 2015.


Keep up with Sarah E. Ladd by visiting www.sarahladd.com, becoming her fan on Facebook (Sarah Ladd Author), or following her on Twitter (@SarahLaddAuthor). 

Click here to read more about A Lady at Willowgrove Hall!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Carrie Turansky talks about The Daughter of Highland Hall

An interview with Carrie Turansky,
Author of The Daughter of Highland Hall

When family expectations and societal pressures collide with love and faith, which values will emerge the victor? Award-winning author Carrie Turansky explores this theme in her new book, The Daughter of Highland Hall (Multnomah Books/October 7, 2014/ISBN: 978-1601424983/$14.99).

Book two in the Edwardian Brides Series, The Daughter of Highland Hall, follows 18-year-old Kate Ramsey on a journey of self-discovery as she travels to London to make her societal debut. Her overbearing aunt insists she secure a marriage proposal from a wealthy, titled man. As Kate begins making the round of balls and garden parties, she attracts the attention of a man who seems to have all the qualifications on her list. Yet, is he the best choice? Will this lifestyle bring her true happiness?

Q: At the beginning of The Daughter of Highland Hall, readers will find the scripture Matthew 6:33. What is the significance of that verse in the story?

I chose Matthew 6:33, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” as the theme verse for this story because it summarizes the faith journey of the heroine, Kate Ramsey. The novel opens as Kate comes to London for her first season, hoping to make a good impression and find a wealthy, titled husband. She believes this will give her a prominent place in society and secure her future. But when she meets others who have a sincere faith and different goals, everything she has believed is called into question. What is most important in life? How does her faith impact her choices? Kate discovers when she lays down our own plans and seeks God first, He guides her toward the best path for her future.

Q: Your heroine, Kate, is a debutante trying to find her place in society and ultimately a husband. Why will readers be able to identify with her experiences?

Everyone wants to live a meaningful, fulfilling life. That was true in 1912, and it’s true today. Readers will identify with Kate as she faces the challenges of pleasing her family, meeting society’s expectations and trying to understand her own desires and motivations as she looks toward the future. Some of those challenges and expectations may be different today . . . but many are the same, and we can learn from all Kate experiences on her journey of faith and self-discovery.

Q: The Daughter of Highland Hall is your second book in the Edwardian Bride series — what is it about that time period that interests you?

The Edwardian era (1900–1918) is an interesting time of change in England. The class system and cultural influences of the Victorian era were still present, but they were beginning to change. Many modern inventions became popular and impacted people’s lives, such as cars, electricity, airplanes and several time-saving appliances. Those make the Edwardian lifestyle similar to today, and that in turn helps readers relate to the characters and the issues they face.

Q: What first drew you to writing English historical fiction?

I enjoyed watching Downton Abbey and was intrigued by the lifestyle, time period and the upstairs-downstairs aspects of the series. I met with an editor at a conference, and she encouraged me to research the time period and submit a proposal that had a similar feeling but was unique. At first I thought the research would be too difficult. However, Cathy Gohlke, a friend and fellow author, had recently published a wonderful story set in 1912 titled Promise Me This. Cathy encouraged me to accept the editor’s challenge, and she offered me several research books. So I jumped in and discovered I loved the research and enjoyed learning more about this time period in England. The characters and story rose out of the research, and it has been a fun series to write.

Q: You’ve even taken your research efforts all the way to Europe. What were some of the highlights of your trips? Did anything you saw make it into the book?

My husband and I visited England in 2012 and focused our time in Oxfordshire, the Peak District and the Cotswolds. Our tour of Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is set was the highlight of that trip for me. I loved seeing all the rooms where Downton is filmed, including the great hall, the library, the upper gallery and bedrooms. The gardens and greenhouse were lovely, and I had those in mind for several of the scenes in The Governess of Highland Hall. But I wanted to find a unique estate and setting for my books. My online research led me to Tyntesfield, a beautiful estate near Bristol in southwest England. It was a perfect choice. Tyntestfield is featured on the cover of The Governess of Highland Hall, and I used the interior design of this house to help me envision the scenes in my novels.

I was very excited to visit Tyntesfield in May 2014. What a thrill to see all the rooms and take a private tour of the day nursery and the governess’s bedroom! It’s even more beautiful than my online research revealed. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to Tyntesfield. I have a Pinterest board filled with photos to help me remember everything I saw there.

Q: How was culture changing during the period in which you wrote, and how does The Daughter of Highland Hall reflect that?

As the Victorian era came to an end, the moral climate became less strict. This is reflected by incidents in both The Governess of Highland Hall and The Daughter of Highland Hall. William Ramsey, the head of the family, is impacted by the choices of other family members and must decide how to respond. The differences between the classes were also changing. Working-class people were less satisfied with being “in service” as maids and butlers, and they wanted increased wages and benefits, putting pressure on the upper class. Taxes, especially death duties, put tremendous financial stress on families who inherited large estates. This plays a role in books one and two in the series. All these changes were even more apparent in the later half of the era because of the changes World War I brought to English society. The Ramsey family and the staff at Highland will be going through World War I in book three, A Refuge at Highland Hall.

Q: Another character in the book, Jonathan Foster, is committed to helping the poor in London’s East End. Was that common practice among physicians during that time? Was that kind of work as respected as it is now?

During the late Victorian and Edwardian eras many people became more concerned for the poor and worked for social change. Some offered practical help, including free and low-cost medical care. One of those who was concerned for the poor and encouraged practical assistance was William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. When he first started his work among the poor he was scoffed at and criticized. But near the end of his life he received an honorary doctorate from Oxford and was respected and admired for his work. When he died in 1912, Londoners lined the streets by the thousands to see his casket pass by. A speech given by his granddaughter, Catherine Booth, is featured in The Daughter of Highland Hall, and it has a great impact on Kate Ramsey.

Q: In Edwardian England, women had fewer options available to them, and marriage was the primary way they could secure their future. Yet books and TV shows such as Downton Abbey, based in this time period, are incredibly popular with women. Why do you think this is?

I think women love the fashions, houses, manners and social customs we see on Downton Abbey. Looking back, it seems like a “romantic” period when men were gentlemen and women were ladies. Life seems simpler, especially if you were from a wealthy family. I don’t think most women today would like to take on the role of a servant in that time period. In fact, there was a reality show called Manor House with that premise. People took on the roles of the family and servants and had to live as the Edwardians did for a period of time. Watching that series was a fun part of my research.

Q: While our modern circumstances will vary from Kate’s, we still face expectations placed on us by our family and society. How can we navigate those expectations while still pursuing God’s best for us?

Balancing our love for our family and our commitment to the Lord is an important issue. Following the principles in Scripture we can find help and guidance. When we are children we are told to obey our parents. As we get older the roles change, but we are still to honor them. That means asking for their input and advice on important decisions and listening to their fears and concerns before we prayerfully make decisions. If we’re married, our mate’s input should carry more weight than our parents’. I think meeting society’s expectations is less important than pleasing the Lord and living in a way that honors Him. Once again, using principles from Scripture and getting input and advice from wise and godly people can help us make the best decisions.

Q: What can readers learn from The Daughter of Highland Hall about the importance of seeking godliness in a mate, rather than looks, financial security or social status?

Both The Governess of Highland Hall and The Daughter of Highland Hall touch on the importance of choosing a mate who has a strong faith and good character. That is still an even more important message today. I hope the issues the characters face and the lessons they learn will challenge and encourage everyone who reads the series.

Q: Kate must ultimately decide what the right thing to do is based on her new relationship with God. How does her faith ultimately guide her?

The influence and examples of people who are strong Christians and who live out their faith in their daily lives have a great impact on Kate. When unexpected events in her family cause her to be excluded from social events, she has time to volunteer at a free clinic in one of the poorest areas of London, and her heart begins to soften and change. Rather than seeing the poor as a mass of humanity, she sees them as individuals who each have a story and needs not so very different than her own. Her growing attraction to a man with deep faith and convictions also has a great impact on Kate’s faith. Ultimately she must weigh her choices and use what she has learned to make important decisions about her future.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away after they’ve put The Daughter of Highland Hall back on the shelf?

I hope my readers will enjoy the journey with Kate and Jon and feel as though they have been transported back to London, England, in 1912. But I also hope they will be drawn closer to God as they identify with experiences Kate and Jon face and the challenges and choices they must make.

To keep up with Carrie Turansky, visit www.carrieturansky.com, become a fan on Facebook (AuthorCarrieTuransky) or follow her on Twitter (@CarrieTuransky) and Pinterest (CarrieTuransky).

Click here to read more about The Daughter of Highland Hall!


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Brothers’ Keepers combines travel, intrigue and the global impact of a strong woman

 

How far is too far to protect the ones you love?


It could be argued there is no stronger instinct on earth than that of a mother to protect her family. The lengths she will go to do so are explored in The Brothers’ Keepers (RidgeRoute Press/November 17, 2014/ISBN: 9780991401734/ $14.99), written by award-winning journalist and world traveler NLB Horton.

In The Brothers’ Keepers, we meet archaeologist Grace Madison who is in Brussels cataloguing looted antiquities when her son’s bride is attacked in Switzerland. Her day careens from bad to catastrophic when daughter Maggie disappears in France.

Coincidence is a luxury Grace cannot afford as history — saturated in espionage — is repeating itself. The Madison family converges on Paris and begins a frenzied search to locate Maggie. A cuneiform clay tablet is their only lifeline, detailing a legend intertwining Solomon, Martin Luther and the Fourth Crusade. As they navigate a deadly, 4,000-year-old artifact trail that crosses three continents, they will jeopardize hearts and lives to preserve the ones they love. As time runs out, they discover that to save themselves, they must first rescue an old friend who is deceiving them at every turn. But will he let them?

In the midst of traversing the world, Grace is also faced with trying to save her family by rebuilding her marriage. The roles a woman will assume throughout her lifetime can be varied and complex. It’s difficult to fit any woman into a “one-size-fits-all” box, and this is certainly true of Grace. With strong female characters, The Brothers’ Keepers affirms the impact an intelligent woman who wrestles with a vigorous faith can have on the world and her own personal relationships.
One of the inspirations behind The Brothers’ Keepers was a highly dangerous situation Horton’s own family was involved in while on an archaeological survey as part of her master’s degree program at Dallas Theological Seminary. “I stood at the edge of the tel Dan (Israel) archaeological dig pit with my husband and two then-teenage children. Heavy artillery fire began booming from Syria as staccato machine-gun reports peppered near the Lebanese border. An Israeli Defense Force plane broke through cloud cover. I hoped they could see we were unarmed! Grace Madison was born from this harrowing experience.”

The Brothers’ Keepers is the second book in the Parched series, named as such to bring awareness to the life-threatening truth that sources of potable and economical drinking water are severely limited in many areas of the world, even in the U.S. Horton believes as stewards of God’s creation, Christians have a unique responsibility in this area. She also hopes the book will draw in different kinds of readers. “I hope Grace portrays a demographic of Christianity that is intelligent, fair and fearless because of its belief in God’s empowerment, one attractive to non-believers because these Christians live their faith with realism and love.”


Advance Praise

The Brothers’ Keepers, book two in the Parched series, delivers masterful international suspense driven by contemporary family dynamics. Light the late-night oil because you won’t want to put this book down.” 
~ DiAnn Mills, Christy award-winning author of Sworn to Protect and Breach of Trust


About the Author

NLB Horton returned to writing fiction after an award-winning career in journalism and marketing as well as earning her Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She has surveyed Israeli and Jordanian archaeological digs, tossed a tarantula from her skiff into the Amazon after training with an Incan shaman, driven uneventfully through Rome and consumed gallons of afternoon tea while traveling across five continents.

Horton is a member of the venerable Explorers Club, which was founded in 1904 as a multidisciplinary professional society of explorers and scientists. From her home in the Rocky Mountains, she writes, cross-country skis, gardens and researches ideas for her next novel. Horton’s first novel in the Parched series, When Camels Fly, was released in May 2014. The Brothers' Keepers is the second, and the third installment will be available in fall 2015.



For more information about NLB Horton, visit www.nlbhorton.com, become a fan on Facebook (NLBHorton) or follow her on Twitter (NLBHorton) or Pinterest (nlbhorton).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus


I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
Public Domain

I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back, No turning back.

The cross before me; The world behind me.
The cross before me; The world behind me.
The cross before me; The world behind me.
No turning back, No turning back.

 Though none go with me, I still will follow.
Though none go with me, I still will follow.
 Though none go with me, I still will follow.
No turning back, No turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, No turning back.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Our first show!

We had our first craft sale today! It was poorly advertised and hardly anyone came to shop, but we didn't have a terrible day. I've sold 7 of our 10 trees we made this week. We're going to try again in two weeks.

Our little booth didn't look too bad!

Now, I can go to bed early. I'm so tired from staying up late trying to work on everything!







Friday, November 14, 2014

Amish fiction inspired by Shakespeare!

Becoming Bea by Leslie Gould
Shakespeare-Inspired Q&A

Leslie Gould’s latest release, Becoming Bea is based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It is the fourth and final book in the Courtships of Lancaster series. In this interview, Gould talks about the inspiration behind the series as well as her latest release.

What led you to write an Amish fiction series inspired by Shakespearean plays?

When I was in my master of fine arts/creative writing program at Portland State University, one of our assignments was to re-tell plays in short-story format. I loved writing those stories! When I started writing Amish fiction, it dawned on me that Shakespeare could be easily be retold using Plain characters and settings.

Which plays are the Courtships of Lancaster County books based on, and how did you choose which to use?

The series is based on The Taming of the Shrew (Courting Cate), Romeo and Juliet (Adoring Addie), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Minding Molly), and Much Ado About Nothing (Becoming Bea). I chose comedies—okay, Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy but the first part counts as a comedy— with strong female characters or characters who had the potential to be strong. All of the stories have a definite romantic element and conflict between young adults and their parents, along with each other.

Tell us more about your latest release, Becoming Bea.

I’ve always loved the characters of Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing so retelling their story in Becoming Bea was a delight. There are some novels that seem to write themselves and this was one of them. Bea and Ben have had a tumultuous friendship since their school days, and as they become young adults it morphs into a love-hate relationship. Misunderstandings haven’t helped—and neither do their meddling friends. But as Bea faces challenge after challenge, she must decide whom to trust, and in doing so she begins to change. Becoming Bea could have been as easily called Transforming Bea, but that wouldn’t have been a fun alliteration.

Can you share a little bit about your research for this series and the process of translating the plays to a modern-day, Amish setting?

My Amish research is ongoing with trips to Amish communities, mainly in Lancaster County, and tons of reading about the Amish. I have a wonderful friend who used to be Amish who answers my questions and reads my manuscripts. I am so grateful for her! (Thank you, Marietta!)

As far as the Shakespeare plays, I re-read each one a couple of times before I started writing and then, if available, watched films based on the plays. Thankfully I was able to attend local productions of Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream while I was working on the novels, inspired by those particular plays. I also saw The Taming of the Shrew at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in Ashland soon after I finished Courting Cate. That was a lot of fun too.

Which Shakespearean play do you enjoy the most? Why?

This changes all the time! Right now it would be Much Ado About Nothing. The banter between Beatrice and Benedick is a hoot, and the exploration of different kinds of love, from shallow to sacrificial adds depth to the story.

What is your favorite lesson from Shakespeare?

Overall, Shakespeare teaches us to have empathy for a wide range of people, all with many different kinds of wounds, faults and gifts.  Shakespeare’s complete work features 1,223 characters. He must have covered every archetype ever imagined!

Favorite Shakespearean quote:

This changes all the time for me too. My current one is from As You Like It. Duke Senior, who has been exiled, finds good in a bad situation.

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
II.i

This is the quote that makes me smile the most, because it leads to another back and forth banter between Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing:

I pray thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me? V.ii


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Leslie Gould is the bestselling author of nineteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and 2012 Christy Award winner The Amish Midwife, co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Leslie’s novel Beyond the Blue was the winner of the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Inspirational Novel in 2006, and Courting Cate (inspired by The Taming of the Shrew) was a best-seller and a finalist in the FHL Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards for 2013.

Leslie received her master of fine arts in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction as an adjunct professor at Multnomah University. She was the first-ever recipient of the Oregon Christian Writers’ Trailblazer Award (2013) for her writing achievements and for her encouragement and support of other writers. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Peter, and four children.


Visit her at www.lesliegould.com

Thursday, November 13, 2014

You are loved!

An interview with Debora M. Coty,
Author of Too Loved to Be Lost


In a world where a woman’s acceptance so often seems contingent on her looks, behavior or talents, does anyone love her simply for who she is? Debora M. Coty answers that question with a resounding “yes” in her new book, Too Loved to Be Lost: Discovering God’s Intentional, Unconditional, Without-Limits Love (Barbour Books/October 1, 2014/ISBN: 978-1628369694 /$9.99).

Q: The subtitle of Too Loved to Be Lost is “discovering God’s intentional, unconditional, without-limits love.” Why did you want to bring a message about God’s love to women?

I believe women today spend a lot of time feeling taken advantage of, judged unfairly and accepted only within certain boundaries. The love we receive often seems conditional — based on our looks, behavior, talents or achievements —  rather than who we are inside our skin. With the threat of losing acceptance breathing down our necks, our sense of security crashes and burns as our looks fade, we experience failure, our talents become rusty or ineffective, our achievements wane due to constant stress, the aging process or some other factor beyond our control. We need to know — really KNOW —there is One who doesn’t condemn or critique us, but instead loves, forgives and accepts us — quirks, meltdowns, zits and all.     

Q: You say many of the women you’ve met view God as a “stern entity with a huge frown and a big stick.” Why do you think they see God in that way?

The perspective of an impersonal, judgmental god standing by to smite us to smithereens when we mess up is often based on harsh childhood experience we’ve had with an angry father, relentless coach or strict teacher. I think society at large tends to reinforce that way of thinking by expounding the philosophy that “the good go to heaven (get rewarded) and the bad go to hell (get punished).” Unfortunately, many people buy into this behavior-based theology and completely eliminate the crucial faith elements of Papa God’s grace and forgiveness.

Sure, our heavenly Father is holy and just. He’s righteous and wants us to be too. But that doesn’t make Him a mean ole hulking principal stalking the halls with a big paddle. That is so not our loving Papa God. 

Q: In Too Loved to Be Lost, you use a travel theme to illustrate life’s journey. Why did you choose that thread to weave through this book?

The first and most obvious reason is the word “lost” in the title. I’m directionally challenged in the worst way to the point where Olivia (my Aussie-voiced GPS) keeps her metallic panties in a wad. She has taken to adding, “What in the WORLD were you thinking?” after the third “Recalculating.” I once thought I heard her mutter, “Crimey. Just go home!” 

The second reason is I believe most women experience the hopeless, helpless feeling of lostness at some point in their lives, perhaps after a devastating loss, severe disappointment or disillusionment with life. They lose their heart-compass and find themselves wandering in the spiritual desert without purpose or direction, or they may feel they’re drowning in the relentless everyday stress-pool of life and can’t locate the ladder.

I wrote Too Loved to be Lost to help support and encourage my girlfriends through those lost times with simple, easy-to-follow steps for joining hands and hearts and, with a little help from heaven, to recalculate their route to a lush, peaceful place where they can feel, enjoy and revel in Papa God’s unending love.        

Q: Have you ever had a moment where you felt completely lost? How did God come through for you?

Absolutely. More than once. Even on a single day.

Then there were several lost times that swallowed months and even years before I found my true heart-path again. One of these I’ve spoken of in several of my books was the deep depression that followed six heart-wrenching miscarriages. My wounds were so painful and raw that I distanced myself from the Lord and my faith for two long desert years, during which I felt completely alone and utterly lost. At my lowest point, He reached down to me with His customized tender mercies and gently began chipping away at the rock that was my heart until it was finally replaced with a feeling heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). I believe Papa God allows detours to happen in our faith journeys to show us deeper and higher facets of his limitless love.    

Q: Women have a tendency to try to do it all and can be susceptible to burnout. What are some ways women can counteract the effects of burnout?

  1. Remember you’re truly appreciated. You may never receive sufficient thanks from others, but know Papa God sees and values every single thing you do. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.” (Hebrews 4:13, NIV)
  2. Simplify. Determine the top three priorities Papa has assigned to you at this particular season of your life; ruthlessly slash everything from your schedule not related to these three priorities. Woman up and resolve not to be swayed by guilt. “Our purpose is to please God, not people.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4, NLT)
  3. Get physical. Move, stretch, spin, run! Get that blood pumping to refresh and rejuvenate. Our bodies were not meant to be stagnant lumps. Studies show that physical activity actually increases energy levels and decreases depression often brought on by burnout.
  4. Look for Papa God’s fingerprints every day — proof He’s there, He’s aware, and He cares.
  5. Tap into a greater strength than your own: Jesus joy, the awesome supernatural joy not based on external circumstances, but on internal heart-stances. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)
Q: You say you can see God’s fingerprints throughout your day. Can you share an example from your own life?

I call Papa God’s fingerprints on our lives “grace notes.” I borrowed the musical term from my 20 years as a piano teacher because those teensy notes beside the regular musical notes — called grace notes — aren’t essential to the melody, but they add incredible depth and breadth and beauty to the music. That’s what Papa God’s grace notes do in our lives. His everyday touches of grace — His grace notes — prove to us over and over that even the tiniest details of our lives are important to Him and He always has our backs.

Too Loved to be Lost is full of grace notes from my life and the lives of others I know.

Whether it’s miraculously blocking your smoke allergy while you’re sitting next to an unsaved smoker in church, uplifting your rotten mood by the backlit shaft of a sunbeam reaching down to you like Papa God’s fingers from heaven, or hearing that special song on the radio at the exact moment you need it, you know without a doubt your heavenly father cares intimately about you. Grace notes are supernatural touches of grace that can’t be explained logically. I think of them as butterfly kisses from Papa.    

Q: Women often feel unaccepted by a group or individual. What advice would you give for these times when we feel rejected and unloved?

When we’re thrust into a Have vs. Have-Not situation and find ourselves on the “Not” side of that invisible acceptance barrier, it’s time to change perspective. We can’t force others to like us, but we can transform ourselves from a humiliated Have-Not to a happy Have-Not. How? When we’re feeling unloved and unlovable, we need to CUDDLE:

C: Climb up into Papa God’s lap. Just like when you needed reassurance as a little girl, climb into the warm, soft embrace of the one who loves you. Papa’s enveloping arms are always ready to welcome you. Press your head to His chest. Feel His heartbeat. Know you are cherished.

U: Unload. Drop that heavy load you’re lugging around. Feelings of low self-worth are exacerbated by fatigue. Give your constipated calendar an activity enema. Take control of your energy-sapping schedule before it controls you.

D: Daydream. Yep, you have permission to fly away mentally. Now that you’ve physically unloaded, emotionally unplug. Dare to imagine. Open up a window of happiness.   

D: Dance to the music deep in your soul. Laugh as you twirl in the rain. Play. Frolic. Get back in touch with the freedom of pure joy.

L: Let go of your imagined unworthiness. It’s an ugly lie. You are heard, understood and treasured by the only One who really matters. Reject rejection. Know this: Jesus will never, ever reject you. He thinks you’re to-die-for.

E: Evolve into a higher being. Stop being so hard on yourself. Resolve to treat yourself as your own best friend. When others see how much you respect yourself, they’ll respect you too.

Q: You share openly in Too Loved to Be Lost about what you consider to be your greatest parenting mistake. What was it, and what can it teach us about God and trust?

Although it happened nearly 20 years ago and I’ve been long since forgiven, it’s still painful to think about the harm I inadvertently caused my own child. I was a young mother of two very active children, feeling stressed out and desperate for a break. In my selfishness, I had become all about me. My 7-year-old daughter had always had issues with separation anxiety but had been exceptionally clingy during our beach vacation with my extended family. I explain more detail in Too Loved to be Lost, but in essence, I abandoned my child. No explanation. No good-byes. No closure. I simply disappeared and didn’t come back. She placed her trust in me, but I lost sight of what a privilege it is to be trusted completely by another living soul and callously betrayed that innocent trust. I disregarded her needs and thought only of my own, resulting in a damaged relationship.

Sadly, it took a very long time to regain her trust.

As hideous as it was, this experience enabled me to grasp fully that we have a heavenly parent who will never betray us or forsake our trust. Fallible humans will always let us down, but our Papa God won’t. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV)

Q: Why are strong friendships with other women so important? How can lonely women find more personal connection in our digital world?

Women are wired emotionally to need girlfriends. We need occasional silliness, moments of reckless feminine abandon, a safe place to stash our secrets where they won’t leak.

Girlfriends are the way we learn how to love unconditionally, just as our Godfriend loves us. “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17, NIV) We learn to overlook zits, burps and hideous hair days and honestly believe that this special person who hears the song down deep in our hearts is the most beautiful creature on earth.

The very same way Papa views us.

Through loving on our girlfriends, we learn forgiveness, compassion, mercy and grace: character traits straight from the heart of God. To me, one of the most important things I gain from time with my besties is laughter — pure, soul-freeing, stress-dissolving belly laughter. I believe laughter is the catalyst that releases the joy of the Lord in our souls, and nothing bubbles up joy like the hilarity of girlfriend giggles.

The way to find girlfriends of like minds and hearts is by proactively seeking them. Don’t wait for them to fall into your lap. You might be 93 by the time that happens. Search for them through women’s Bible studies, prayer groups, special interest groups and community functions. Connecting online is great, but it’s important that your cyber relationship morph into a face-to-face girlfriend relationship too at some point. Sharing special moments of our day online is icing on the cake, but hey, we need the cake! The actual physical relationship is important. Coloring your hair purple together or laughing until the Coke spurts out your nose just doesn’t happen online.     

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is the blessing of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” Amen!

Q: Where does your passion to minister to women come from?

I would have given anything as a young woman desiring to grow in my faith to have a like-hearted girlfriend come alongside me to help encourage and equip me for my life journey. I would have wanted her to speak truth frankly and without reservation, but laced with lots of humor, grace and Godiva. 

So that’s what I’m trying to accomplish with my “Take on Life Series,” which includes not only Too Loved to be Lost, but its predecessors Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate, More Beauty, Less Beast and Too Blessed to be Stressed.  Each book addresses heart needs of women and offers true laugh-out-loud stories, applicable scriptures and girlfriend-to-girlfriend chic chats to promote healing, refreshment and transformation.    

Q: What is the single most important takeaway from Too Loved to Be Lost?

Papa God’s love is never too lost or too late. For once we fall in love — into Papa’s love — we can never fall back out of it. It’s secure. Safe. Forever. We can’t do anything so vile we lose it. We can’t forget about it so long it fades away. It’ll never rust, corrode or mildew. No one can break it, ruin it or rip it away from us.

The truth is that Papa God loves each of us from the bottom of His heart, and His heart is bottomless.


Learn more about Debora M. Coty and Too Loved to Be Lost at www.deboracoty.com, on Facebook or Twitter (@deboracoty).