Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Author of Cancer, Faith and Unexpected Joy
“I’ve taught you how to live; now I want to teach you how to die. You don’t have to be afraid.” When Becky Baudouin’s mother spoke those words to her, they weren't said lightly. Her mother had an inoperable tumor—and after months of treatment, there was no hope for a longer life. There was, however, assurance of everlasting life. In Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy: What My Mother Taught Me About How to Live and How to Die (Kregel Publications/September 26, 2017), Baudouin (pronounced Beau-dwen) shares the invaluable wisdom imparted by her mother during her final days.
Q: Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy are insights into dying your mother shared with you following her cancer diagnosis. Can you tell us about the relationship you had with your mom? What was she like when you were growing up?
My mom was very relational and fun. There are five kids in our family, and she was very fulfilled being a stay-at-home mom. She felt it was her highest calling in life. She worked various side jobs as I was growing up to help pay for extras, but I knew being a mom was her first job; she was happy with that. Even though our family life was busy and hectic, I just remember her always being there. She loved and accepted me unconditionally — I didn’t have to earn it, and she was always proud of me and let me know it.
I struggled a lot with anxiety growing up, especially in school, and she was very compassionate and understanding of my struggle. She created a sense of safety and security for me because of her unconditional love and acceptance, so when I was with her I felt peaceful and relaxed. She didn’t push me — I was pushed enough at school — but rather she gave me the space to be my true self. She was the best example to me of what it looked like to live out her faith and live in community with other people. Her faith in Christ was at the center of how she lived and the way she loved others.
Q: When your mother was diagnosed with cancer, what prognosis did the doctor give her? What did the doctor add after answering the medical questions your family had?
Mom’s pulmonologist, Dr. Kraker, told us her cancer was incurable and inoperable. Treatment would hopefully extend her life and give her a bit more time with her family, but the type of cancer she had would spread. There was no hope of her surviving.
However, he did offer a different kind of hope. He asked Mom if she was a person of faith. She answered, “Oh, yes! I have a deep faith in God, and I believe in the power of prayer.” We had not yet been able to process or accept what the doctor had just told us, and at this point, I think Mom was holding on to the hope she would be healed miraculously through prayer and faith. Dr. Kraker told us, “If you read even a little bit of the Bible, you will see God tells us we will have troubles in this life. But He tells us over and over again not to be afraid. He promises no matter what happens, He will never leave us. He will help us through all of our trials, and He gives us the assurance of eternity — the promise of Heaven after this life is over.” I think he was encouraging my mom and our family to put our faith in God and in the promises of His presence, His help, and Heaven, rather than in a desired outcome. His words helped to set the tone for how we processed this difficult news and how Mom approached her diagnosis.
I decided to rearrange my priorities so I could show up and be fully present with my mom during her illness. My husband, Bernie and I had been volunteers in our church’s marriage ministry for more than 10 years, but I immediately knew I need to step out and take a break. I knew I needed to pull back from some of the groups and activities I was in so I would have the energy and time to take care of myself and my family and to take frequent trips to Michigan to be with my mom. I realized I had limited time and resources, and I drastically simplified my commitments.
During that season, I didn’t volunteer at my daughters’ schools and extra-curricular activities, and some people didn’t really understand. I just had to say no to some of those things, and I didn’t worry about trying to explain this to people who didn’t really know me or what I was going through. I took some time off from work, and I missed some things with my kids. However, I knew I would never regret the time I spent with my mom. I knew it was a season that wouldn’t last forever. I also reached out and asked people for help. Friends brought meals over when I was out of town, and our kids spent lots of time at their friends’ houses. I didn’t try or pretend like I could get through this alone or keep juggling everything I had been doing before Mom got sick.
We all prayed for Mom to be healed, and she believed she would get well. One night during one of our phone conversations, though, she told me, “The way I see it, either way I’m in a win-win situation. Do you know what I mean?” I thought I understood, but I asked her to explain. “Well, if I am healed of this cancer, then I win more time with my family. If I die, then I win eternity in Heaven with my Savior. Either way I win.”
I saw her faith was in God and not in a particular outcome. I saw she was trusting God no matter what. I think her faith in God just continued to grow deeper throughout the course of her treatments, and it enabled her to surrender and accept the reality of what was happening.
Q: Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy is written as a series of journal entries. Was there a reason you decided to document this time, or was journaling something you had always done?
I have always kept journals. Writing is and always has been one of the ways I process what is happening and what I am learning. Sometimes I can’t even process something that happens until I write about it. During my mom’s illness, I had a strong sense I needed to write things down. I wanted to be able to remember things she said and did and what I was feeling and to share these things with my daughters.
Q: How did each of your daughters process the news about their grandmother differently? Why did you choose to be open about your grief with them rather than shield them from what you were feeling?
My eldest daughter, Kate, was very mature and compassionate toward me. She could see how hard the idea of losing my mom was for me and was sensitive to that. My middle daughter, Claire, was very quiet and didn’t want to talk about it a lot. She is not as much of a verbal processor, and I realized it’s OK for us to process differently. My youngest daughter, Brenna, was very distraught and upset about the news. She was afraid her grandma was going to die and talked about it to me often. She had a lot of fears and sadness.
I chose to be open with my children about my grief because, for one thing, I couldn’t hide it. It was just so heavy and present with me, I couldn’t keep it from them. I also saw value in letting them walk with me, letting them observe how I dealt with my strong emotions of sadness and fear. My mom was teaching me how our faith is an anchor during these storms of life, and I wanted to do the same for my daughters. They saw me hold on to Jesus during this time, and I think they learned the value in grieving well. I remember Brenna wrote me a note one day, telling me I looked beautiful when I cried because she could see my heart. She was seven years old and very open and tender-hearted. She connected with me in my grief in a profound way.
Surrender. My mom taught me what it looks like to surrender, especially when things turn out differently than we had hoped. She accepted what was happening, even though we had prayed for something different. She entrusted herself to the One who is all-loving and wise and trusted in His plan. This posture of surrender brought a deep, abiding sense of peace leading up to her final moments on this earth. She was deeply at peace and taught us when we surrender to God, we really don’t need to be afraid. He is completely trustworthy.
Q: Even though cancer plays a major part in your book, isn’t there something everyone facing trials can take away from reading Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy?
Absolutely. I think the commonality and place of connection is when we find ourselves facing something out of our control, a problem or trial no one can fix. A sickness no doctor, no treatment and no amount of money can fix. A loss or tragedy that cannot be reversed. From a human perspective, these are hopeless situations with circumstances that cannot be changed. Yet there is hope of another kind. We have our faith as an anchor, and God promises His presence and help in every difficult trial we face. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. This is true hope — not that our circumstances will change, but that God will get us through those circumstances.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Part 2 of an interview with Micah Maddox,
Author of Anchored In: Experience a
Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World
Problems can make you feel like God is far away, but they can also be the very things that bring you closer to him.
(Abingdon Press) by Micah Maddox isn’t a book of Christian cliché’s or sweet stories to warm the heart but rather an authentic look at the hard parts of life. It challenges us to stop running from and clinging to the past, and to grasp tightly to the only unshakable Anchor that is able to sustain our souls through the storms of life.
Maddox shares personal stories, such as her father’s abandonment of her family, and couples them with biblical application to offer real-life glimpses of God at work. She offers inspiration to live a life full of God’s power rather than one that causes us to turn away and be paralyzed by problems.
Q: What experience from your past played a major role in leading you to write Anchored In?
Anchored In was a journey of healing for me. After being abandoned by my dad (who was a pastor) when I was six, I spent my life wondering why bad things happen. As an adult, I finally faced the biggest fear of my life and tried to reconnect with my dad, but when I did, he did not pursue a relationship with me. At that point, I was forced either to turn to God and find my anchor in Him or choose to continue running from my heartache. I chose God. I found Him to be the most firm, secure, comforting healer and cornerstone. He is my Anchor, and He proved His love to me. I learned it doesn’t matter what we face on this earth. God’s power and presence is greater and stronger than anything this world throws at us.
I began writing before I realized I was actually writing a book. I began with a blog, and every time God would put something on my heart, I would write it down. After a few months, I realized everything God was speaking to my heart had a common theme. I began organizing my thoughts and stories and eventually had a solid outline for a book.
I wrote Anchored In to let others know that God’s power is available and freely accessible even when life seems like it is falling apart.
Q: Why is it beneficial to reflect on the difficult times in our lives rather than simply putting the past in the past?
Our past defines us. It makes us who we are. If we never dig into the things we have been through, never deal with them and never use them to become stronger, we waste a valuable piece of our lives. Putting things in the past is good but only after we’ve dealt with them. If we pretend away the problems of our past, we are truly only compounding the pain in our hearts, and at some point we will be forced to deal with it.
Q: Tell us about your journey into ministry, especially after being hurt through your father’s decision to leave the ministry he was involved in.
When I was a teenager I attended a small Christian school, and we had chapel services every week. One week a pastor was speaking on living a life of full-time ministry, and I knelt down at the end of that chapel service and felt God speak to me. He said, “You are going to finish the ministry your dad started.” At that point I knew God would use me to share the truth of His love with the world.
I began teaching the Bible right out of college, and for eight years I stood up in front of teenage girls and women and gave them whatever lessons God was giving me. When my husband and I made a major move and transitioned from one ministry to another, I went through a season of silence. I wasn’t teaching or speaking. I knew God had placed a call on my life to share His Word, but in this season I couldn’t understand why the opportunities were not available. As I sought the Lord and asked for direction, God clearly led me to start a blog and share my heart in that way. This was never on my radar, nor was it a desire I had ever had before, but I grew to love writing and found God had a place for me in the writing world.
Q: What are the steps required to anchor our thoughts in God’s power rather letting our problems consume our minds?
In the book I include five simple steps to follow to change the old thought patterns we tend to revert to.
1. Pray over it. Too often we wait to pray until prayer seems to be the only option. We are going to look at it as the foundation of making real life change.
2. Identify it. We must identify the thought patterns that consistently cause us to focus on our problems. Once we identify it, we must take action.
3. Obey. Obedience means we do what Paul reminds us to do with our thoughts in II Corinthians and take every thought captive.
4. Stop it. This is continual obedience. It’s making the choice to change every time you are tempted with a new thought that threatens to derail you.
5. Replace it. This is my favorite step and the one that holds the most value. However, without the other steps we may never get to this point. When we pray over it, identify the thought, obey God and stop the thought in its tracks, we are ready to replace those old musty thoughts with God’s truth.
I like to claim specific verses for specific thoughts. If I’m struggling with fear, I will claim Psalm 56:3, which says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.” If I have felt left out or alone and keep dwelling on the people who put me in that position, I will claim Hebrews 13:5, which says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” When we can name our thoughts by identifying them and calling them out and then make the active choice to obey God in that moment, we seek Him. In our seeking, we find the truth of His word. It’s power-full. It gives us power over the thoughts that typically cause us to end up in a downhill spiral. Problems are going to come, but we have what we need to move beyond them without letting them consume our minds. We have the power of God available to us through the truth of His Word. Transformational thinking comes when we begin to see truth instead of trauma.
I’ll be honest; I have to work on this constantly.
Q: What advice do you offer for those who are living in a “season of darkness,” or a time when it does not feel as though God is present?
I think we all go through these seasons. I can even find myself there today. When we go through hard circumstances, it’s natural to feel discouraged and that dark cloud comes rolling in. Here is what I have learned about the dark seasons, though: “Darkness is only a distraction. It does not mean God has departed.” When I remember this truth, I cling to the fact God is still with me even in the dark moments and seasons of life.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Peter, James and John in a Sailboat
Peter, James and John in a sailboat. (3x)
Out on the deep blue sea.
Fished all night and caught no fishes. (3x)
Out on the deep blue sea.
Then came Jesus walking by the water. (3x)
Out on the deep blue sea.
Cast your nets on the other side. (3x)
Out on the deep blue sea.
Then their nets were filled with fishes. (3x)
Out on the deep blue sea.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Catherine Marshall’s Christy
celebrates its 50th anniversary
A new edition of the classic story of determination and devotion to be released
Some stories are evergreen, their themes and lessons standing the test of time and connecting with readers generation after generation. One such book is Catherine Marshall’s Christy (Evergreen Farm, an imprint of Gilead Publishing/October 17, 2017/ ISBN 9781683701262/$24.99), originally released in 1967 and now celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of a new hardcover edition and its first-ever release as an e-book. Based on Marshall’s mother’s life, the story of Christy is one of determination, devotion and commitment to making a difference in the world.
Marshall’s best seller tells the story of nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston who moves from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1912 and finds herself in Cutter Gap, a Smoky Mountain community that feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions and century-old traditions. Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, and some of the Cutter Gap residents see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged by trial and tragedy, and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove.
Christy landed on the New York Times list on November 5, 1967. Since then, more than 10 million copies have been sold worldwide, and the book blazed a trail for the new Christian fiction genre. In 1994, more families were introduced to the beloved character, Christy, and to the works of Marshall when the story inspired a CBS television movie pilot starring Kellie Martin that was so well received, it became a TV series.
“The story of Christy has endured because of its timeless themes. A young person, barely 19, is inspired to contribute her time and talents to make a difference,” states Nancy LeSourd, Evergreen Farm’s publisher and spokesperson for the Marshall family. “Christy is a tale of courage, determination, and passion. Christy and other key characters in the novel have to learn how to take who they are, and what they have to give, and serve a community that challenges them in ways they cannot anticipate. Even though the story took place 100 years ago, these key characters’ approaches to making a difference is not unlike the Millennial generation today.”
In conjunction with the bestselling book’s Golden Anniversary, the e-book will be available for the first time. Readers can purchase the digital edition through online retailers, and libraries can now include the digital book in their OverDrive collection. Its re-release will introduce a new generation of readers to the story that has delighted millions and inspired many authors in the Christian genre. Christy will also mark the first release under Gilead Publishing’s Evergreen Farm imprint, specializing in books written by both Catherine Marshall and Dr. Peter Marshall.
“There is a whole generation of readers who aren’t familiar with Christy, and we want to introduce them to her story,” explains Dan Balow, CEO and Publisher of Gilead Publishing. “Our intention was to create a book to be read, not placed in a shelf as a keepsake, so readers won’t find commemorative features. The book being available in digital format for the first time is an avenue of reaching a vast new audience.”
The Christy Awards™, the industry's premiere award program for recognizing excellence in Christian fiction, was named in honor of the book. This award promotes the power of story written from a Christian worldview in nine categories. This year’s The Christy Awards™ will be awarded November 8, 2017, in Nashville in association with
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s (ECPA) Publishing University (PubU) and The Art of Writing conference.
Learn more about the 50th anniversary of Christy plus download a free map of Cutter Gap by visiting www.christybook.com. Readers can also keep up with news on future Evergreen Farm releases via Facebook (@gileadpublishing) and Twitter (@GileadPub).
About the Author
Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), the New York Times best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel Christy. Based on the life of her mother, Christy captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Marshall probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders.
She also shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate during World War II, in A Man Called Peter. The movie version, an immediate box-office hit, was nominated for an Academy Award. A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Marshall married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of Guideposts. The writing team collaborated often at Evergreen Farm on Christy and 17 other books.
A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Marshall’s enduring career spanned four decades and six continents and reached more than 30 million readers.
About the Spokesperson
Nancy LeSourd, is the daughter-in-law of Catherine Marshall and spokesperson for the Marshall and LeSourd families. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, during the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s, where she learned first-hand as a teenager the impact that a young person can have on history. She taught history in middle school and high school before becoming a lawyer and has more than 30 years of experience as an intellectual property attorney, helping nonprofit organizations maximize their publishing assets.
LeSourd also serves as publisher for Evergreen Farm, an imprint of Gilead Publishing. Nancy and her husband, Jeff, live at Evergreen Farm in Lincoln, Virginia, and have two delightful grown children.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Part 1 of an interview with Lori Benton,
Author of Many Sparrows
Understanding why some things happen the way they do is impossible, but as Christians, we must remember God is in control and His timing is perfect. His purposes are deeper and broader than we can imagine. These are lessons Clare Inglesby must learn in award-winning author Lori Benton’s latest historical novel, Many Sparrows (WaterBrook).
Set in 1774 and based on historical facts, Many Sparrows depicts the harrowing account of a young mother who will stop at nothing to find and reclaim her son after he is taken by a native tribe.
Q: Without giving away too much of the story, can you share where the title Many Sparrows comes from?
The title has several meanings. It’s taken from the verses in Matthew 10 quoted in the front matter of the book. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father. . . . Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. The title Many Sparrows speaks to the theme of God’s vigilance in our lives and His constant care for us, as well as the fact we are linked to one another. There are many sparrows in His sight, not just one, and He’s concerned for them all.
It’s also the name given to an important character in the story.
Q: What do you hope readers learn about God’s timing and His plans for us while reading Many Sparrows?
What I love about how God uses a story like Many Sparrows is He’s going to speak to readers in individual ways about things I could never plan or predict. Somehow He does that work in spite of the limitations of both me and my books. I’m so glad He does. He’s a big God, so much bigger than my puny understanding can grasp. His plans, His timing, His purpose for us all are broader, deeper and higher than we can imagine. How easy it is to fail to see beyond the end of our noses, to be so wrapped up in our own circumstances that we lose sight of how connected we are. None of us lives or dies unto ourselves. All our choices have consequences in the lives of those we’re linked to, and each of us is just as important to our Father in Heaven as the next. As we make choices we need to bear in mind how they will affect others. Will they build them up or stumble and tear them down? Can we trust God in those situations where the choice to do good for another’s benefit requires a sacrifice we aren’t sure we can make? Is He truly a good Father? Are we safe in His hands?
Those thoughts were stirring in my heart as I wrote Many Sparrows, so I hope such themes resonate with readers and provoke conversation between them and the Lord.
Q: Why is it difficult to surrender situations to God and rely on Him to resolve the circumstances?
We want to be the one in control. Surrender isn’t a comfortable state. What if He brings us through pain? What if we suffer loss? Even knowing and believing God is good, He desires to give us good gifts and all He allows into our lives will ultimately work for our good, it’s still not fun, comfortable or easy to face the possibility of pain or disappointment. Have you ever rushed ahead of God and tried to fix a situation and simply made matters worse? I have. Having done that a time or two (or three!), I prefer to let whatever loss, disappointment or pain He allows me to experience be what draws me nearer to Him. I am weak; He is strong. I am flawed; He is pure. I see through a glass darkly; He sees and knows everything about me that concerns me, my past, my present and my future. His word tells me He will complete the work He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).
Q: One of the more spiritual aspects of the story is the idea of repaying evil for evil. How can we set our minds on overcoming evil with good?
My best answer to how we can set our minds to do anything God’s way, rather than our own, is by daily washing those minds in the water of His word.
As for setting our minds on overcoming evil with good, let’s remember God Himself did that for us. We have all sinned and fallen short of the mark a holy God set in His law, but instead of His wrath for our failure, we get grace. Instead of condemnation, we get forgiveness. Jesus took that wrath and condemnation for us. He overcame evil—our sin and failure—by paying for it on the cross. The ultimate good for evil repayment! Remembering the choice He made for us lends us the perspective and strength we need to show a similar grace to each other.
Q: What can we learn from the life-altering consequences of the characters in Many Sparrows?
Father God knows best. His ways lead to wholeness, healing and joy. If we leave Him free to work out His plan for us and cease the fretting that only leads to fruitless meddling, things will go easier for us. We won’t walk through this life on a path of rose petals, but whatever situations He allows into our lives will work together for good, to deepen our faith, dependency on Him and intimacy of fellowship. We should keep our focus on what is eternal rather than on what will soon pass away. Oh, that I would keep such a focus!
Q: Can you give a little tease about your next work in progress?
Tentatively titled The King’s Mercy, the story is set in an earlier time period than any I’ve written before: the first half of the 18th century. I’m returning to Colonial North Carolina as a setting, though the story begins in Scotland. I don’t have a publication date yet, but I’m guessing sometime in late 2018.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Part 2 of an interview with Cindy Woodsmall,
Author of Gathering the Threads
Cindy Woodsmall’s latest series, Amish of Summer Grove, introduces readers to two young women, one Englisch and one Amish, who were switched at birth and follows them as they discover what their lives would have been like had the switch never taken place. In Gathering the Threads (WaterBrook), Woodsmall deftly weaves complex issues of identity into the story. What makes us who we are? Are we simply a result of our genetic ancestry? Does our family determine our future . . . or is there something more to identity?
Q: Skylar experienced a culture shock when she arrived in Summer Grove. What lessons did she learn from her new Amish family that helped her overcome her battle with drug addiction?
Oh, my, where to begin when it comes to Skylar! I’ve had readers contact me, sharing they felt she was unredeemable and wished I wouldn’t waste any more time on her and just toss her to the side to focus on Ariana and her Amish family. That surprised me, and it hurt because I have someone in my life who once had many of Skylar’s traits. We can’t give up the fight. Everyone wants the sweet, stalwart child. However, like winning the lottery, reality doesn’t give us everything we want.
Skylar lives a selfish life unchecked. Her desires for admiration and drugs are a bottomless pit of hunger, but despite those things, when Ariana was forced to live with her biological parents, Skyler was the only person who had the ability to save Ariana’s café from going under. Skylar is smart and talented, but her addiction threatens to ruin her life before it can really get started.
It was quite a battle for Skylar to get clean, and she fought with her Amish family to leave her alone and let her be an addict. One Amish sibling fought back, saying, “Don’t let something that cares nothing about you control your life. It will make you as apathetic as it is. Fight, Skylar. Decide that you, your family and your future are worth more than these stupid pills!”
Other things came into play concerning Skylar and her addiction, but Skylar finally understood the value of life. She began the battle to get clean and stay clean.
Q: What lessons in hope and faith do you hope readers takeaway from reading Gathering the Threads?
Metaphorically, we often have an idea or vision or number in our heads of what life and people are supposed to add up to be. In reality life is messy and confusing, and it’s rarely what we thought it would be. Even God doesn’t always add up to our ideas or dreams or that elusive number, and we can’t make ourselves, others or God add up. We must accept and believe despite all the messiness and confusion. In the series, Ariana realized there were many translations of God’s Word, and it seemed to her there needed to be more grace and less legalism about exactly how to live. That’s the theme. Hebrews 13:9 says, “It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.”
Q: Is there a subtler, maybe even hidden lesson you hope readers consider as well?
I think there are many. A fictional story has the power to slip into a reader’s skin and enable her to see nuances of understanding that make life as broad and beautiful as God intended. I didn’t intentionally write hidden lessons, but when readers slip into a character’s world, they often discover things the author didn’t see. As readers, personal insight is our superpower.
Q: Some people who have never read Amish fiction usually have a certain perception of the genre without giving it a chance. What would you say to encourage new readers to branch out and try the Amish of Summer Grove series?
I would say they may be missing out on some of the best reads of their lives. In any genre, there are different types of books. I’d like to think this series goes deeper than most and leaves readers breathless, thinking they were going on one journey and discovering they went on an entirely different one. I enter the Amish world and lift the veil of presupposition, not showing readers what they expected to see, but showing them a very different reality — one I hope builds faith inside their own lives.
The Amish way of life challenges us to consider more than the mantra of self-discovery and self-rule. When we get a peek into their way of life, we can begin to understand how and why they put sacrificial action behind their beliefs. At the same time, we take a journey into a world that struggles to uphold all the previous generation upheld. The heart cry of the faithful in every generation, whether Amish or Englisch (non-Amish/non-Plain), is to do what is best for the family, the faith community and those we influence. We learn how the Amish pass their faithfulness from one generation to the next while we see the weaknesses of trying to have too tight of a grip on the next generation. The determination and struggles of the Amish are a clear depiction of our struggle with the world around us.
Q: Gathering the Threads is the third and final book in your Amish of Summer Grove series. Is it difficult for you to end a series and leave the characters behind?
Yes and no. After three books there are many pieces to put together and many facets of the story to juggle and remember. It’s a bit of a relief to get to start a fresh story, but at the same time, it feels like I’m saying good-bye to close friends. How can I not write any more about Ari, Quill and Skylar? Possible spin-offs about their future lives fill my mind when I close my eyes at night, even though it’s not feasible to bring those to the page right now. The good thing about book-friends is they are always there on the page and in my heart whenever I want to visit them.
Q: Can you share a little bit about the book you are you writing next?
I just finished writing my first non-Amish novella with my daughter-in-law, Erin. It comes out in October and is titled The Gift of Christmas Past. I’m currently writing a full-length non-Amish book that will release in the fall of 2018. Its working title is Soft Dusks and Noonday Fire, and the setting will be the beautiful St. Simons Island, Georgia. I have an amusing, spunky cast of characters I think my readers will enjoy getting to know.
Learn more about Woodsmall and her books at www.cindywoodsmall.com. She is also active on Facebook (@authorcindywoodsmall).
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Part 2 of an interview with Randy Singer,
Author of Rule of Law
Inspired by real events involving American contract workers detained in Yemen, Singer wrote Rule of Law to address what he describes as critical issues lurking on the horizon. “Is the president above the law in matters of foreign policy?” Singer asks. “Should the CIA be fighting shadow wars with drones and special forces in countries where we have not declared war? What happens when the lives of service members are sacrificed for political gain?”
To avoid getting bogged down in political polarization, Singer assures readers his fictional president, cabinet and Supreme Court bear little resemblance to the current administration and Court. He does, however, anchor the story in reality with historical references — political, military and legal — based on actual events. He also has great respect for the sacrifices made by the Navy SEALS and their families, some of whom attend the church where Singer serves as a teaching pastor.
Q: While you made sure the characters such as the President and members of the Supreme Court in Rule of Law were not based on anyone in the current presidential administration, you did have real life inspiration for the book. Can you tell us about the people who did inspire you and the story?
Two remarkable people inspired me to write Rule of Law. They are both clients of my law practice.
Rule of Law begins with a SEAL Team raid of a prison camp in Yemen where the Houthi rebels are housing two important political prisoners.
Mark McAlister was working for the United Nations on October 20, 2015, in Yemen when he was captured by the Houthi rebels (who believed he was working for the CIA). For the next six months Mark was confined to a small, windowless cell where he was abused and interrogated. Through it all, he never renounced his faith. On the contrary, he boldly told his captors that he was a follower of Jesus. After they took his Bible, Mark would pace his small cell, praying and reminding himself of the miracles of Jesus.
“Lord, if you can walk on water, you can get me out of this cell. Lord, if you can heal the blind, you can get me out of this cell. Lord, if you can come back from the dead after three days, you can get me out of this cell.”
Six months into his captivity, Mark was miraculously released by his Houthi captors. By then, he had won their respect and developed a relationship with them. I had Mark share his testimony with my church which can be accessed, along with the message I preached that day, here: Lord of the Nations.
The second person who inspired this book was Dana Wise. She is the widow of a former Navy SEAL who attended the church I pastor and who was killed by a terrorist in Afghanistan. Dana’s grace and class in the midst of tragedy have been an incredible testimony to so many people. The main character in this book is a young female lawyer who is on a mission to avenge the death of her boyfriend, a Navy SEAL killed in the line of duty. The strength and class of Dana served as a great model for my protagonist. Dana shared her story on Memorial Day at our church, which can be seen, along with my message, here: Greater Love
In Rule of Law, I want readers to experience triumph in the midst of tragedy, and justice rising out of pain.
Q: Your church serves many servicemen and women. How did your work with military families influence you as you wrote Rule of Law?
Rule of Law begins with a tragic ending to a military mission. As part of my duties as pastor, I have been called on to minister to families who have lost loved ones in battle. The valor of these gold-star families is amazing. Rule of Law is, in many ways, a tribute to them. Additionally, just being around a military community and having friends who can answer my questions about how things would work (and I had tons of questions) helped make the book more realistic.
Q: You are a lawyer, a pastor and an author. How do all of those roles work together in writing Christian legal thrillers?
Writing Christian legal thrillers is the ideal intersection of my “lives” as pastor, lawyer and author. I believe I can write more realistic legal thrillers because I am still in the arena—trying cases in court and experiencing the kinds of emotions, victories and defeats that my characters experience.
I would also say that my three lives collide a fair amount. My writing is inspired by cases I’ve handled. My wife reads my initial manuscripts and gives me feedback. My daughter and I practice law together. My law partner is an elder in my church. My sermons are influenced by the storytelling tools I’ve learned as an author and the persuasive skills I’ve developed as a lawyer. Everything bleeds together and feeds off everything else.
To my church members, I’m a pastor; to my clients, a lawyer; and to my readers, an author. In today’s specialized society, it seems like it should be hard to juggle all three. But if you look at it historically, it was not at all unusual for one person to fulfill numerous roles. I think it helps me to be better at each one. As a pastor, I know what my church members go through in the “secular” world each week. As a lawyer, I can help bring a spiritual perspective to bear on my client’s biggest challenges. And as a writer, I can draw from both of those other wells for inspiration, experience and ideas.
Q: In the midst of tragedy, what does it mean to rely fully on God to get you through?
There are times in our life when we can hardly find the strength to take the next step. Friends tell us God can turn even this tragedy into something good, but we are hurting so much that we can’t find the faith to believe that. It is in those heartbreaking and gut-wrenching moments that we discover God’s amazing grace and the truth that Jesus is enough no matter the circumstances. I have found God does not give us the grace and strength ahead of time but that He always gives us exactly what we need for the next step, even when it feels impossible. We do not serve a Savior who is above our suffering; we serve one who suffered himself and who walks through tragedy with us, one who fully understands the pain of loss, abandonment, rejection and injustice. He is also a Savior who promises the power of the resurrection — that God can restore and redeem something hopelessly broken and lost.
Q: Rule of Law uses the platform of fiction to bring a true-life message to a wide audience. What is the message you hope readers gain from reading the book?
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
I also want to remind them that God will give us the courage and strength even in our darkest days to do what He has called us to do. The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead is alive in us. Ephesians 1:19-20.
Learn more about Randy Singer and Rule of Law at www.randysinger.net.