Welcome to the online home of Audra Jennings, a book publicist and crafter. Here I share about both. I hope you'll find books you'll want to read and crafts you will want to order. I live a rather boring, single life. At times I would like to think I am humorous. The kids I teach in Bible class tend to think so. I also blog about current seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I don't know why, I just do.
When life knocks you down... Get back up!
An Interview with Sheryl Giesbrecht,
Author of Get Back Up
Did you know it is possible to survive
a freefall from the Willis Tower in Chicago or a skydive with a failed
parachute? It will hurt, and it will take some time to heal, but it is
possible. Our lives can be a lot like that freefall, but we can survive
whatever challenges God puts in front of us if we just get back up. In Get Back
Up: Trusting God When Life Knocks You Down (Wheatmark/March 2013/ISBN: 978-1-60494-854-7/$ 12.95/also available in
e-book), Sheryl Giesbrecht shares her personal story of triumph
over tragedy to help readers understand they can not only survive their
adversities, but thrive.
Q: For most authors, one defining
experience drives them to write their book. You’ve actually faced many
obstacles that would have kept most people down for the count. Can you share
with us about a difficult time in your life when you had to trust in God and Get
Several years ago, I found a lump under my left eye; months later,
the lump had tripled in size, blocking my vision. I was afraid and skeptical
when I went to the doctor. I could see the concern in the physician’s eyes when
sent me to another doctor, a specialist, who sent me to get further tests. You
can imagine my surprise when two months later, after no warning signs, such as
being tired or sick, I was told I had stage four non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type
of blood cancer. As a cancer patient, I felt out of control. My life was
scheduled for tests, surgeries, doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy,
side-effects—everything changed. For a control-freak like me, this was very difficult.
I chose to trust God, to place myself in His control every day. Psalm 73:26
says, “My body and mind may grow weak, He is my strength, all I ever need.” This
was a daily choice for me. On days I was tired or sick from the medication, I
chose God’s way and not my past methods of dealing with adversity.
Q: How did the words “love covers a
multitude of sins” draw you out of a life of addiction?
At seventeen, I was deep into drug addiction. I stayed high as
much as possible, trying to fill the emptiness in my life with the highest high
or the cutest guy while my need for affection only increased. I couldn’t wait
to move out of my parents’ home. My family pulled strings to get me a volunteer
summer job at a Christian camp. The staff assigned me lists of chores, such as
washing hundreds of dishes in the mess hall, raking piles of pine needles
around the campgrounds, and even moving logs around the outdoor campfire ring.
Whenever I complained or threw fits over doing my chores or smoked cigarettes and
dope, the staff said, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8 [NIV]).
Their words, repeated over and over, immersed me for two weeks. The staff
didn’t tell me to change anything about my appearance, attitude or addictions.
Instead, they showed me what the invitation of love looked like.
They were kind; they offered the true love of God without forcing me to accept
it. It got me to thinking, isn’t my sin too much for God to handle? That
thought plagued me day and night. Their words, “Love covers a multitude of
sins,” straight from scripture, began to penetrate my hard heart and foggy
mind. I began to believe God’s love could cover the things that held me captive
to my addictions: drugs and alcohol, lying and stealing, promiscuity and drug
dealing. It was finally clear: I didn’t need to clean up my act before coming
to God; He loved me passionately just the way I was. One night in my cabin, I
submitted to the overwhelming love of God. He had reached out to me, and I, a
most unlikely choice, finally grasped His hand. His abundant love did cover my
multitude of sins. I accepted the invitation to live a new life. The invitation
was from God.
Q: When we feel worn-out and spread
thin, what are some of the ways we can best rejuvenate ourselves?
It always helps to remind ourselves what God thinks about us. We
can do this by meditating on scripture and every person’s identity in Christ.
When you understand your identity in Christ, you can successfully live the
abundant life He promises. This is how one moves with the rhythm of God’s
Another way we can rejuvenate ourselves is we should learn how to
ask God for help. This happens by constantly maintaining conversation with God
in prayer. In Get Back Up, I talk
about the Mom’s In Touch method of prayer that has helped me learn to pray.
God’s prayer book is His Word, the Bible. If you want to learn to pray, use
We can rejuvenate ourselves if we learn to nurture ourselves. This
is very difficult because it requires self-evaluation. It may mean quitting
several of the programs for which you volunteer. “Nurturing yourself is not
selfish,” said message therapist Rachel Donaldson. “It actually gives you more
energy and patience to manage all types of stress.” If you keep multitasking to
a minimum and choose just two or three things each day that are realistic and
tangible, you will feel successful and less stressed. Keep your calendar open,
allowing for those inevitable family emergencies that would come up. During a
busy season of life, when my children were young and their activities required
transportation, I set aside about ten minutes every day for a prayer time or
just to talk to another female friend by phone. Often my time of renewal was
when I picked up my son from my sister-in-law’s house. Although she was my
child’s babysitter, we became good friends, prayer partners and confidantes.
Q: Why do you think we tend to want to
handle things ourselves rather than hand our struggles over to God in times of
doubt, despair and disappointment?
Many men and women are wounded. They mourn in silence, yearning
for freedom, yet they remain unable to acknowledge the love of God. They can’t
bring themselves to reach out for the hand of God. Disabling circumstances sap
their strength, often beyond their control, yet they don’t respond to God’s
invitation to get back up. Why do some choose to live life in a state of
numbness? Because they believe renewal is for friends, husband, parents, even children—anyone
but them. Some think their damaged emotions are too ruined for God to heal.
They don’t trust him with their pain. They need to see that the power to get
back up begins when the believing starts. That’s what trusting God is all
Q: How does forgiveness and letting go
of grudges play into us being able to get back up?
God wants to release us from our frozen state of bitterness to a
graceful walk in the freedom of forgiveness. God asks us to forgive, but He
also gives us the ability to do it. Consider Matthew 18:33: “Should you not
also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as had mercy on you?” (NIV).
Remember: Forgiveness is giving ourselves a gift, not giving a
gift to the person we’ve forgiven. In fact, the person we forgive may not ever
know we’ve forgiven him, but God will. Forgiveness is between God and us.
Confessing our forgiveness to someone who has not first asked for it can cause
more problems than it solves. Forgiving others should actually begin at the
time we are offended, but it can still be accomplished even if the hurt
occurred years ago—even if the offender is now deceased. Forgiveness is good
Letting go of a grudge is good for your health. Grudges increase
tension and stress, deplete energy, cause isolation and prevent old wounds from
healing. Grudges steal joy, disrupt sleep and harden hearts and arteries. Such bitter
emotions can even get in the way of prayers. Resentment keeps us in chains
unless we recognize it as bitterness. Give up the grudge and our right to get
even, and we will gain peace, sound mind and restful sleep. We can train our
minds to refuse to keep score of the wrongs others have committed against us
through the power of God’s Word. Remember that 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love
keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV).
Q: Survival during a physical fall is
dependent more on how you land than how you fall. How can we prepare to land on
our feet when we fall figuratively?
We can prepare and plan ahead because we know it’s not if but when we will “fall.” We can spend
time with God in prayer and in His word every day. In times of “peace and
prosperity,” we might want to take a vacation from spending time with God. If,
instead, we choose to put down our roots, we will invest in a huge spiritual
return. So when we do “fall down” in the changes and challenges of life, we
sense God is near. We believe God is just a prayer away and waits for us to ask
Him to help us get back up when we are knocked down by life. God wants us to
reach out to Him in times of difficulty, doubt, despair, depression,
disappointment, disease, destruction, divorce, discouragement, domestic
violence or death. God’s hand is extended to us. His will for us when we are
down and out is to turn to Him and ask for a hand up. He asks us to lace our
fingers into His. “God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh
start to those ready to quit” (Psalm 145:14 [The Message]).
Q: Why do we feel we have to clean up
our messy lives before turning to God? Isn’t the whole point that we can come
to Him as we are?
We are afraid of being vulnerable before God. Some of us can
hardly stand ourselves, so we wonder why God would love or how he could
possibly love someone like us. We forget the church should be a hospital for
the sick. We measure ourselves against others around us, masking our pain and
hiding our true feelings. This belief system is an addiction; it’s called
perfectionism. If we read our Bible regularly, we find the testimony of the
Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-16 is also extended to us. It reads, “I thank
Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me
faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and
a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance
and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with
the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that
deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of
whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me,
the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an
example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” Now
that’s a great example of God’s unconditional love!
Q: You are the Executive Director of
International Christian Ministries. Can you tell us more about what ICM does
and your next mission trip?
I love leaders. As a pastor’s wife for more than 28 years, God
gave me a heart for women in leadership and showed me the importance of the
role of a pastor’s wife. Years later, opportunities came for me to work with
leadership training events involving men and women. Back several years ago, I
was fortunate to get involved with ICM and now am on the full-time staff.
International Christian Ministries’ purpose is to serve the church
by training, equipping and discipling its leaders. We focus on top-level servant
leaders and exponentially expand our training through training leaders. Leaders
are the influential gatekeepers who control what their organizations will
learn. We utilize our influence and resources to train leaders at every level
of a denomination or ministry. Our partners are Equip, Walk Thru the Bible,
Lead Like Jesus and the Purpose Driven Church. Most of our work is done in Africa, but we
also train in the Middle East, Europe and Canada.
I am leading an ICM team in spring 2013 where we will serve the
African people in Kenya and Uganda. Our team will be presenting Vacation Bible
School programs at orphanages. I will also be teaching a leadership training
seminar. I’m so very excited and appreciate your prayers. You can keep up with
our trip via my blog (http://sherylsblog.icmusa.org/), as well as Facebook and Twitter(@SGiesbrecht).