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Meet Author Laura Thomas - Book Giveaway

To be eligible win win a copy of Laura's book, please join this blog (you will need some kind of Google account) and leave a comment.
Laura has five books published by Dancing With Bear Publishing: Christian teen fiction novels Tears to Dancing, Tears of a Princess, and Tears, Fears, and Fame, non-fiction marriage book, Pearls for the Bride, and middle grade novel, The Candle Maker.
Laura’s self-published Kindle interactive picture book Fairy Wings is for princesses aged 3-6, and her literary agent, Steve Hutson at WordWise Media, is currently representing her Christian romantic suspense novel, The Glass Bottom Boat.

Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
 I’m an early dreamer and a late bloomer! I was a total bookworm as a child, and dreamed of writing my very own book one day (think Beatrix Potter), but that’s pretty much as far as it went. The dream was buried deep, very deep, and I continued on with my life— got married, emigrated from the UK to Canada, had kids, home schooled… until 2006, when my husband took me out for coffee and randomly asked about my dreams. I confessed my childhood aspirations, which took him completely by surprise, as I had never actually spoken about writing before, and he strongly encouraged me to pursue it— straight away. So I rolled up my sleeves and took a couple of correspondence courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature (while home schooling my kids) and began sending out short stories to magazines. The rest, as they say, is history. I’m living proof that it’s never too late to follow your dreams… no matter how deeply they are buried.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?  My latest work of fiction is the third book in my Christian teen fiction trilogy, which was published last December. The inspiration for Tears, Fears, and Fame came from various sources. I had already written about Sara, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, in the previous two books where she was a “supporting cast member” and I knew her own story had to be told. In this book, she is a newly discovered talent in the world of Christian music, and has achieved her goal of being signed as a singer with a recording agency. I’m from a very musical family and have been involved in worship leading for many years, so I was excited to write about the highs and lows in Sara’s new singing career. I also wanted to combine awareness of cyber stalking with Sara’s fragile nerves and anxiety issues—topics relevant to today’s teen. I guess this sums up where my inspiration carried me: “Will Sara’s faith carry her through the intense pressures on and off stage, or will the sudden disappearance of someone she loves be her ultimate undoing?”  What was the most interesting research you had to do for your books? 

I have to say that writing my non-fiction marriage book, Pearls for the Bride, was incredibly interesting and rewarding. It started as a letter to my daughter, who was soon to be married. I wanted to pass on some words of wisdom and advice, and my letter grew until it reached ten chapters…. and was ultimately a book, which my publisher believed showed a unique angle, coming from the mother of the bride. As it happens, this little book is now a popular gift for bridal showers! The research was an interesting process—and it happened very quickly… I wrote the whole thing in less than a month. I got to dig deep to remind myself what the Bible has to say about marriage, taking particular note from the legendary Proverbs 31 woman. I also took many strolls down memory lane with my husband as I rehashed and recalled our experience thus far as man and wife (28 years this month, to be precise!) It was sobering to remember the mistakes we made along the way (I’m pretty sure we were mere children when we got married!), and utterly joyful to see how we have grown ever closer through the years. There were moments of hysterical laughter too—many of those! It was such a special opportunity to not only pass on a little wisdom to my own daughter, but to all brides-to-be.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?

Oh yes, always! I have just signed with Steve Hutson from WordWise Media as my literary agent (which I am beyond excited about!) and he is representing my Christian romantic suspense novel, The Glass Bottom Boat. With that in mind, I have started working on another manuscript in the same genre… it’s based in the Oregon Coast and I’m looking forward to taking a road trip there this summer for some additional inspiration!
What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I would love to say my writing schedule is incredibly organized, and I have each day planned to perfection, but I am a writer, and that’s not usually how we roll. I would also love to be one of those “burn the midnight oil” types, but quite honestly, anything I write after 9pm is decidedly iffy. For me, writing is done whenever I can seize the opportunity, preferably during the day, in a silent house, in my office. Possibly with an English bulldog snoring loudly at my feet. I balance it around my family, church commitments, exercise (very important when you’re sitting at a desk for much of the day!) and whatever else life throws at me. I do write each day in some capacity, even if it’s journaling or blogging, but having a clear five hours undisturbed to get into the flow of some serious writing—that’s bliss!
  How did you find your publisher?  What was your journey to publication like?
I found Dancing With Bear Publishing via an online newsletter for children’s writers. I had sent my manuscript for my first book, Christian teen fiction novel (Tears to Dancing), to several other publishers and had survived the rejections, so decided to submit to this smaller publisher in the States. My manuscript was promptly accepted (insert wild screams of jubilation right here) and my publisher started the ball rolling right away. Six months later, after editing and book cover selecting, my book was published! It was a dream come true—I’ll never forget receiving the very first copy and holding it in my trembling hands. After that, we continued on and I wrote a sequel (Tears of a Princess), which became a trilogy (Tears, Fears, and Fame), and in the meantime they also published my middle grade fiction (the Candle Maker) and a relationship book for newlyweds (Pearls for the Bride). All this in the space of 4 years… it’s been surreal and wonderful! Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies? 

Yeah, but it’s kind of embarrassing. I’m a pathetic typist. Like, REALLY pathetic. Much to my family’s amusement, I attack the keyboard in a very “special” pecking manner with minimal fingers (I actually do the same with my phone), but it works very nicely for me. As long as nobody is watching…
 Find her books here:

Laura is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. She is married to her high school sweetheart, has three wonderful children, and an adorable English bulldog. Born and raised in England and Wales, she immigrated to Canada in her mid-twenties, and now lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, where her authoring dreams have become a reality.

Laura’s strongest desire is to provide wholesome reading for children, challenging books for teens, and encouragement as well as entertainment for her adult readers.

The Breeding Tree by J. Andersen - Author Interview and Giveaway

Is the opportunity to create the next 

generation of life a dream come true 

or a deadly nightmare?



When seventeen year old Katherine Dennard is selected to become a "Creation Specialist" in Sector 4, the opportunity sounds like a dream come true. But Kate soon discovers the darker side of her profession - the disposal of fetal organs and destruction of human life. It makes sense, really. In a society where disease and malformations don t exist, human perfection demands that no genetic "mutants" be allowed to live. For Sector 4, "survival of the fittest" is not just a theory - it's The Institute's main mission. 

When Kate discovers that The Institute is using her DNA to create new life, her work gets personal. In order to save her unviable son, she'll have to trust Micah and his band of underground Natural Born Rebels. The problem is, if The Institute discovers her betrayal, the next body being disposed of could be hers.

You can win this ebook directly from the author. All you have to do is:

1) Have some kind of Google account (gmail, twitter, etc.)
2) Follow this blog
3) Post a comment to this post.
4) Share on your social media sights.
5) The winner will be chosen a week after this post.

Interview with the author of The Breeding Tree, J. Anderson

Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life? 

I have to say “BOTH” to this. Just before my first book was published, my mom showed up at my house with one of those “what I want to be when I grow up” packets from elementary school. It was from 3rd grade. In it, I said I wanted to be famous for writing a book. I have no memory of this. When I was at camp at age 12, I remember saying I wanted to write a book by the time I was 25. But that always seemed like a pipe dream. It wasn’t until I taught middle school and was reading what the students were reading that I really became serious about writing a book. I would write during the summers and on my days off. I was older than 25, but I did get that first book out. Then came a new publisher and a new contract. Now I’m working on book 2 in THE BREEDING TREE series. It’s been contracted, and we’re in edits right now.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? What was the most interesting research you had to do for your books?  

Honestly, I try to do as little research as possible, but there were a few things I researched: For both my first book, AT WHAT COST—A YA contemporary, and THE BREEDING TREE, fetal development was important, so I made sure to get the details right on that. I did some research on underground cities. That was kind of cool. But the best research was when I was trying to describe shooting a gun, but I’d never shot one. My brother took me to get the feel of it. That was pretty fun.

How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?  Is the process the same for every book you write?  How long does it take you to write a book?  

I like to think the process is the same for me, but the more I write, the more I realize each book is a little different. Sometimes I get the whole story plopped into my head at once and I just have to sort out the details. I use a triangular plot chart to give myself a one page glance at the whole story. This happened with THE BREEDING TREE. The second and third books in that series (Yes, they’re both written) needed a little more brainstorming. I did this with some friends. Just shot around ideas. Then I used the same triangular plot chart. The new story I’m working on—I’d tell you the title, but it’s changed 3 times already—has been a bugger to plan! I like to plan. I need to see where I’m going so I can figure out how to get there. But I couldn’t figure it out for this one, so I just started writing. Then I brainstormed with someone and the story took a new turn, which meant I had to toss a lot of what I had. I tried a new kind of chart to plan, which helped to get me on the right track, but still wasn’t the best. So I’ve been fleshing out this story a little at a time, then going back and planning more.

It takes me 8 months to a year to write a book, but this one that hasn’t let me plan has been a year already and it’s not done.

Are you currently working on any new book projects? 

Always. My goal is to get ahead of the publishers, or rather, stay ahead of the publishers. While I was agent searching and subsequently, when he was publisher searching, I kept writing. I have 3 unpublished stories so far.

What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write? 

This is always a tough one because I’m a stay at home mom, so finding time is like swimming through peanut butter—It might be possible, but it’s going to be hard to do. I recently discovered that writing sprints work really well for me. I can get more done in a 1 hour sprint than I can all the rest of the week. So now, I take my kiddo to a sitter once a week and head to a coffee shop to write. Then, if I don’t get any writing done any other time, I don’t worry about it b/c at least I had that sprint. I’m hoping things will open up a bit when the little one goes to Preschool in the fall.

How did you find your publisher?  What was your journey to publication like?

I queried agents … lots of them until one took me on. I knew from the start I wanted to go the traditional publishing route and even when people told me I could self-publish my stories, I refused, knowing that wasn’t for me. For some writers, it’s perfect. For me, it wasn’t. Once I had my agent, he sold my book to a small pub within 6 months and it was published in less than a year. From there we have moved to a larger publisher with this next book. As much as I would love to be one of those break out authors who hit the NYT best seller list with the first book, that’s not my story. (Pun intended.) Some of us have a different path.

How have your friends and family received your career as an author?  Are they supportive? 

My friends and family are my biggest cheerleaders, though, at the same time, I think they think it’s weird. Lol. For instance, my hub is very supportive and glad that I have an outlet for myself, especially being a stay at home mom, but I also think he doesn’t quite understand my NEED to write all the time. Unless you’re a writer too, you can’t possibly understand writers. We’re a strange bunch. I have a few friends and family members who help me brainstorm/name characters/make book trailers/take photos, so everyone has been great.

What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? 

POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?        

This sounds strange, but the actual WRITING. I’m a much better re-writer and editor than I am a writer. Once I have some material to work with, I’m good, but getting those first ideas on the page is a horrific experience for me. I do tend to use the same words over and over. I work hard to vary my sentence structure, so starting sentences with different words is fine, but I’ll use something like difficult five times in one page. During the writing process, I just highlight those and move on, knowing I’ll come back to them during editing.

Author Bio

There’s not much to do growing up in a small town in Western, NY, so J. Andersen wrote stories and won high school writing contests. But in college her writing was limited to term papers. While teaching middle school she began to read young adult books and got serious about writing. She now writes full time, volunteers at the town library, helps to run a School of the Arts at her church, and sings in the church band. She enjoys good coffee—read: home roasted by her husband—crafts, baking, running a small essential oil business, and chasing after her children. You’ll rarely see J. without a book in her hands, and that’s the way she’d like to keep it. 


Amazon pre-order: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103987/
Snapchat ID: jvdlandersen

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Snapchat ID: jvdlandersen

Interview with Lee Strobel about God is Not Dead 2

Image from PureFlix Entertainment

Lee Strobel is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty books and serves as Professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University. His best-known books are the “Case” series - The Case for Christ, The Case for the Resurrection, and The Case for a Creator, all of which have been made into documentaries. He also holds a Master of Studies in Law degree. With this expertise, Strobel was asked to “testify” as himself in God’s Not Dead 2.
In the movie, a teacher is about to lose her job and is even on trial for mentioning Jesus in her classroom. We're grateful to our apologetics colleague for taking the time to answer our questions about his role, and why the fictional case is a cause for real-life concern.

RC: What part did being a journalist play, if any, in your moving from atheist to Christian – were you already writing on the topic of whether the Bible and Jesus were real?
LS: I was legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and not really engaged with biblical issues until my wife became a Christian through a neighbor. The changes in my wife’s life and values are what made me begin looking into biblical issues.

RC: As an investigative journalist you probably spent some time in courtrooms. Is it plausible that such issues as the historicity of Jesus are addressed in court?
LS: In God's Not Dead 2, it becomes an issue whether Jesus really lived and what He did. Conceivably, these questions could be relevant because if He’s a historical figure, which He is, why can’t He be referenced in school like other historical figures? The name of Jesus shouldn’t be outlawed in the public square.

RC: How much of your “witness stand testimony” in the movie came from personal experience – were the “attorney” character’s questions pretty much the same you actually get out in public?
LS: With me, the questions focus in real life as to whether Jesus lived, was He executed, and did people really see Him alive afterward? These are the three main questions open to investigation and which make people question Christianity. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised your faith is futile.” So when they asked me to testify in the film the material was familiar to me, but I think actual court testimony might be a little different than portrayed.

RC: Did you and J. Warner Wallace get to chat at all about the strategy you would use in the roles you played? (see our interview with Wallace about his role.)
LS: Jim’s an old friend. I wrote the foreword to Cold Case Christianity. When I was asked to be in the film, I knew he’d been in it – I asked if it was a good idea, we discussed strategy, and I was able to write part of my script and contribute ideas with the director and writers. My part wasn’t filmed until the rest of the movie was made.

RC: What would you say to today’s journalists and blogging critics who are against the Bible as truth?
LS: I would say do what I did and do what Jim did, like so many other nonbelievers who’ve ended up coming to Christ. Investigate the Bible and see if it has historical viability and a firm underpinning of truth.
My experience is that when you apply the same tests as you would with any other historical document, the Bible emerges very well. My confidence has only increased since writing The Case for Christ – that these testimonies are true.
RC: And what would you say to critics’ claims that movies like this over-exaggerate today’s discrimination against Christianity in academia and other places?
LS: Peter Kirsanow, an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, has said, “Over the last few decades there’s been a creeping erosion of religious freedom in our country.” I taught law at Roosevelt University (Chicago). The First Amendment is something I take very seriously. At the end of the film is listed the real-life cases that have happened. A case exactly like the one in God’s Not Dead 2 hasn’t happened, but is not out of the realm of possibility.

We’ve had students who weren’t allowed to use the Bible as a historic reference of Roman history, students suspended for just wearing a rosary, students being censored from mentioning Jesus in speeches, all kinds of examples of this erosion. Critics can say that case, the movie case, hasn’t happened, but we’re inching toward it in this country.

Some of our politicians say we have freedom of “worship.” Well, we can do “worship” in church…but that’s not freedom of “religion.” Freedom of religion is when we can take it out to the public square.

RC: There’s already a buzz, even within the apologetics and Christian communities, about these movies not being factual or realistic enough. It seems they’re not giving it a chance to help our case. What’s your take on this?
LS: A film is a story. Film is not often the best way to deliver apologetic material. Documentaries are designed to present it, but this is a fictional story which can only convey so much biblical truth. You can always be criticized for not doing enough or too much – I would tell these critics, go make your own movie and wrestle with how artistically you present the evidence in a compelling story! I think this movie does a good job of telling a compelling story and presenting some solid evidence. Our books are mentioned in the film, and people should use these resources.
My book The Case for Christ was over 300 pages long, but people still said “what about this, what about that?” You can never cover everything.

RC: Why do you believe religious freedom is so important?
LS: Each generation must make sure religious freedom is protected. This is going to get more serious in the schools and other issues with religious conscience. If I were teaching law today I’d be a very busy man trying to keep abreast of all the developments.
RC: What advice would you give to Christians who might experience their free speech being challenged?
LS: We’re told in scripture to be gentle and respectful, but that doesn’t rule out using legal means to enforce our rights. There are organizations that specialize in this. They will intervene so that it doesn’t even go to court. It can be resolved. Some require leverage from attorneys, often just a letter, and some will work pro bono. I encourage people to pursue these remedies.
RC: Ratio Christi believes we not only need to defend our faith, but to defend the right to defend the faith today. Would you agree, and why?
LS: I totally agree. Our right under the free exercise clause and free speech are both in the First Amendment. We should have an opportunity in the public square to express and defend our beliefs. There are people who would certainly like to close our mouths, but we must keep going.

RC: So, is God dead? Why or why not?!
LS: I’d like to actually write a book and call it “God’s Still Not Dead”!

Agreeing with Strobel about the possibilities of this fictional case becoming real is attorney Erik Stanley with Alliance Defending Freedom. See our interview with Stanley. 

Ratio Christi equips college and high school students with historical, scientific and philosophical evidence for the Christian faith. This helps them stand for the truth of Christ on campus. Our chapters hold friendly meetings where atheists, skeptics, and those of other religions can also join discussions about Christianity. Find out more at http://ratiochristi.org/about-us.

An Interview with Teen Dynamo Sadie Robertson of 'God's Not Dead 2'

Sadie Roberts courtesy of the Billy Graham Library
Sadie Robertson plays “Marlene” in the riveting God’s Not Dead 2, opening this Friday, April 1. “Marlene” is the best friend of the main high school character, “Brooke.”

We are excited to share an interview we did with Sadie prior to the opening. But first, please make plans to see this sequel to God’s Not Dead! For that matter, if you haven’t seen the original, run to rent it … now. The first movie surprised numerous naysayers and critics by its amazing box office and rental success in 2014.

Both movies are important to audiences that value religious free speech in American society. The fictional situations are based on real-life incidents and court cases, as is illustrated by the long lists of actual lawsuits that run at the end of the films.

Robertson, 18, is a member of the Duck Dynasty family featured on the A&E TV series. But she is her own accomplished person and a young lady of prolific talents.

Robertson attends Ouachita Christian Academy in Monroe, Louisiana where she wore jersey #15 for the girls’ basketball team in her sophomore and junior year. Her team stats appear on many high school sports statistics websites. In conjunction with fashion designer Sherri Hill, she designs clothes under the label “Live Original” that encourage a stylish yet modest wardrobe for teen girls. The clothing line uses the same title as Robertson’s popular book, Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values (Howard Books, 2014).

She sang with country star Alison Krauss for her family's album, “Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas” (2013).

The following year she moved from singing to dancing and took Second Place with professional dance partner Mark Ballas on Season 19 of “Dancing with the Stars” despite remaining modestly costumed and insisting on dance routines that were not as “sexy” as many on the reality show.

Then came the big offer to appear in the movie God’s Not Dead 2. That’s where our interview comes in.

Q: What led to you being cast as “Brooke’s” friend “Marlene” in the movie?

A: My parents (Willie and Korie Robertson) were in the first movie, and the producers wanted to continue the legacy. They felt the character was a lot like me, and when I read the script I had no doubt about doing it.

Q: Did you create a “backstory” for your character - i.e., what motivates her and prompts her to support Brooke?

A: Yes - as Brooke’s best friend, she was the one go-to friend in high school no matter what Brooke was going through. She was there to encourage her.

Q: Did you have a chance to meet or spend time with all the actors, or the apologetics experts like J. Warner Wallace or Lee Strobel, who weren’t in your scenes?

A: No, I didn’t meet everyone – I was only on the set for three days! But I did get to be with Melissa, Jesse, and Hayley. They were all great, and it was a wonderful experience (Melissa Joan Hart as the main character “Grace,” Jesse Metcalfe as Grace’s attorney, and Hayley Orrantia as “Brooke”).

Q: What did you think of the court scenes in the movie where the witnesses were giving evidence about the truth of the Christian story?

A: Even as a lifelong Christian, I learned a lot from the movie, especially about the true origin of the phrase “separation of church and state.”

Q: Were there any discussions among the cast about how the script was a parallel to real-life occurrences in society today? 

A: Yes – we knew that at the end of the movie they were showing the cases that have happened. I didn’t realize how big the problem is!

Q: Why is it important for both Christians and non-Christians to see this movie?

A: People will be motivated. They’ll fear less, gain strength, and learn so many things like I did. I didn’t know some of these facts. If you are not a Christian – go anyway – it’s a good movie, and you’ll learn some real information from history you may not know.

Q: How can this movie help people who are struggling with expressing their faith to others?

A: The movie gives you courage to know God will take you all the way through something. I liked how Melissa (“Grace”) was praying on her bed.

Q: Have you or a friend or teacher ever experienced anything like the bias portrayed in the movie?

A: No. I went to a private school. But I have seen other kinds of punishment and ridicule, and I feel it all relates to this situation.

Q: The issue of Christians being able to voice their faith in public has become huge for your strong Christian family. When did you first feel driven to get involved?

A: It was actually before that – I was thirteen and away on a sports trip. Everyone wanted to party while being away from parents, but I never did. I made the decision not to go with the world but to go with God. I felt His presence and knew He was worth it. After that I got baptized. When you surrender and let God in, you know how good He is.

Q: Have you had a special teacher in your life who encouraged you in your faith?

A: Yes – my favorite teacher – she would ask if she could pray for us and listen to us – even in chemistry class. She led us by example and showed how important faith is.

Q: Ratio Christi teaches apologetics to Christian students so they can combine faith and reason to support their biblical worldview. Have you ever studied apologetics?

A: Our private school system used Christian books with science and history supporting the Bible.

Q: What do you think is the biggest concern on your Christian peers’ minds today?

A: Their biggest concern is what other people think about them – what are people going to say? They need to know that things will come and go but they can rely on God.

Q: You took Second Place on "Dancing with the Stars" with no dance experience! What encouraged you to go on the show?

A: Crazy! My grandma really wanted me to do it. I was scared but I learned a lot about myself and what I am able to do.

God’s Not Dead 2 is slated to open in 1,700 theaters across the U.S. If it has the impact and holding power of its predecessor, it will be circulating on movie screens for at least two months and be very much in demand once it is on video and cable. But don’t wait that long to see it! 

Photos courtesy of the Billy Graham Library
Original interview posted at Ratio Christi

I Lost My Mom When I was 14

My dear friend Mary is one of the kindest, most generous people I know. She would give the shirt off her back to anyone who needed it. Mary has had a very hard life beginning at the age of 14 when she lost her mom. Shortly thereafter she lost her father, Aunt and older sister. Many people would become angry and bitter at God for so many losses at such a young age but Mary is all love and compassion for others. She loves the Lord with all her heart. Butterflies hold a very special meaning for her. Before she passed away, her mother told her that every time she saw a butterfly, it would be a reminder of how much she loved her. Here is Mary's story.
Tell me about your mom

My mommy was the kindest, hard working mom. She was so funny and always left everyone she met with a smile on their face. She was a daughter and friend and most important she was a mother. She work hard to make a home for me. She loved everyone and never spoke bad about anyone. She was the life of the party. She was gorgeous . She was so proud of me and proud to be my mom. My mom was a virtuous women.

How old were you and she when she died?

I was 14 years old

What was the thing you loved most about her?

My mommy was a fighter and I loved everything about her. She was constant and unchanging.  She was my hero. She was my whole world.

What were the circumstances that lead to their passing?
My mommy had a malignant brain tumor ( Cancer)

Please share how you dealt with this terrible tragedy especially in light of your relationship with the Lord.
At the time of her death I did not know the Lord.

People often don't know what to say or how to comfort someone who has lost someone dear to them.What advise would you give?
Sometimes silence is best, just be there, be a shoulder to cry on. Listen don't talk.

What are some of the best, most practically helpful/comforting things people in your life actually did for you that helped you?
I had no one but my moms sister (my Aunt) We just  loved each other through it. She was my hero after my mom passed.

Is there any specific advise you would offer to someone who is facing losing someone close to them, like a spouse, relative or child?
If the person  passing on is saved don't be sad be happy and rejoice for them. They are going to a much better place and you will see them again. If that person is lost share with them the truth let them know about Jesus. let them know Jesus died for them and he loves them very much.

Is there a specific bible verse that has come to mean a lot to you as a result of this painful experience?

Psalm 91

If you could spend one last day with them again, what would you most want to do and say to them?
Oh I have so much to say to my mom. I would not even know where to start. I would just hold her in my arms and tell her how much I love her and have missed her. I want to share with her my daughter, my home.  I would ask for advice for some many things. I would just fall down in awe to see my mom again.  I had a daughter and named her after my mom, she is nothing like my mom the opposite in fact.  I lost my best friend my everything when I lost my mom, a piece of me died with her. Not a day goes by that I don't think about  her and wish that my mom was here with me.

I Lost My Soul Mate

I have come to the age where I no longer attend weddings or baby showers but funerals. Even though I'm only 56, several of my dear friends (who I know personally and also through social media) have lost spouses in the past year or so. I attended the funeral of a woman a bit younger than me. A wife and mother of two young daughters who I had known for years. Although I knew she was in heaven I wept constantly through the service. I can't imagine anything more devastating than losing your spouse and I have to honestly admit that it is my greatest fear in life.

It is especially poignant in light of the entire Joey and Rory Feek situation that transpired recently. A young, beautiful, new mother dies of ovarian cancer at the age of 40 and the couple had a blog that shared the entire experience with the world.

My next book (not yet published) was a what if. What if I lost my husband, Michael? The love of my life? How does one handle something so devastating? How do you go on? I asked Rebecca, my friend, who lost her husband a year ago March 29th if she would be willing to share her own experience in the hopes that it might help others who have gone through the same thing.

Here is Rebecca's story...

How did you meet your husband, David? 

David and I both lived in a mobile home park when we met.  He was a Sgt. Deputy Sheriff with Autauga County Sheriff’s Office, and I was an Assistant Manager at Prattville Credit Corp.  One-day driving into our mobile home park, I stopped at the mailboxes to check my mail. As I started back to my car, this deputy who was sitting behind my car, motioned for me to come over to where he was.  I got almost to his car and he said, never mind, I thought you were a girl we have warrants on for bad checks.  

Apparently the elderly lady that live across the street from me, had a granddaughter that looked like me from behind and drove the same year, make, model, and color car I drove.   A few nights later I started a part time job at night delivering pizza’s at pizza hut, and that night when we were checking out our tips, I got to talking to one of the other drivers, and he ask where I live.  He told me he also lived there, and that he was a deputy sheriff.  I said yes there are a couple of deputies that live in my mobile home park and I said one of them is an A _ _ Hole.  He said why do you say that, and I preceded to tell him about the deputy at the mailbox that day, and about that time he pulled off his cap, and I was like OH  S _ _ T!!!! , BECAUSE THEN I REALIZED IT WAS HIM.  He of course, thought it was funny, I figured I was going to jail for sure next time he saw me but we started talking on a regular basis and started dating and soon it was LOVE.  (excuse the bad words there, but I was not a Christian back then).

How long were you married?

David and I were married February 3, 1999 and He passed away March 29, 2015.  So we were married 16 years, 1 month, 26 days.   Those were the most wonderful years of my life.

What was the thing you loved most about him?

David was a very kind, loving man.  He treated me like a princess.  I can honestly say that the whole time we were married; He NEVER raised his voice to me.   He was a very well loved and respected man in our county.   He was my best friend, husband, and my hero.   He was a man of God, and a priest in our home.  He always made sure I was happy. 

What were the circumstances that lead to his untimely passing?

David spent 20 years in the Air Force and retired.  Then 22 years with Autauga County Sheriff’s and on November 1, 2014, he retired as a Lieutenant. On March 26, 2015, David went into surgery to have a Hernia Repair, which was a success, but the doctor went and clipped something on an old surgery, sewed him up then sent him home, this was a Thursday.   Saturday morning David was having trouble breathing, so he was rushed to the hospital by ambulance.   The last words we said to each other, was I love you. When they got him to the hospital they had to incubate him, and this is when I found out that the doctor that had done the hernia repair had clipped his bowel open.   David was septic.  It was all in his organs, and things began to shut down.  The doctors did everything they could to try to save him, but it was too late.  Sunday afternoon, we had to shut down the machines that was keeping him alive.   My whole world came tumbling down. 

I've had several friends lose loved ones this year. Please share how you dealt with this terrible tragedy especially in light of your relationship with the Lord.

 I can say that I love my Jesus with all my heart, and I trust him.  I thought I was a very strong person, but in the next few months following my loss of David, I started falling to pieces.  It has been almost a year now since his death and I still hurt and long for him, but I know he is with Jesus, and I know that one day we will be reunited in heaven.   If it had not been for my family, and this really includes my church family, and my friends, but most of all Jesus, I just don’t know how I would have made it this long.   Some days I am okay, but a lot of days, I cry and feel so alone, but then I just have to remember that with Jesus I am never alone.  

People often don't know what to say or how to comfort someone who has lost someone dear to them. What advice would you give? 

I think the best thing to do is listen.  Let the person talk about their loved one, and how they are feeling.  There are so many emotions you go through, and you have to go through them.  You have to work them out.  I think the greatest person during all this time to me was my Pastor, Kevin McDaniel.  He would call me sometimes twice a day, and just talk to me and let me talk to him.  He would listen to me cry, and he understood every emotion I was feeling.  When I would be angry, he would tell me it is ok but he was there and he listened.  He has this way of giving advice that doesn’t even sound like advice. Because he knows, life is life. 

I would have to say the worse thing to say to someone is, “it will get better”,  “you will learn to live with it”  ,  “Time will heal”   ,  or even  “ I know how you feel”.  NO YOU DON’T.     Even if you have experienced the same thing, you don’t know how I feel.    You may know how you felt, or feel, but you don’t know how I feel.    Another thing, If you say, let me know if there is anything I can do for you,  [lease be ready to back that up when the person needs you.   Or if you say, I am going to be there for you, not going to let you be alone, will check on you, make sure you do just that.  Don’t ask what can I do for you to help you?  Think.  Oh if this is a woman, I will go cut her grass, and if I tell her I am going to take care of the yard, make sure it’s done.   Ladies, go visit your friend, she needs you.  She is going to tell you, she is all right but she really is not.  This does not mean you have to be there all the time. Once or twice a week is good but be there.  Not just for a couple of weeks.  It takes a long time to get over the grieving, so be there.   Most people do not want to put others out so they will not call you up and say, hey could you do this for me.   And don’t judge.  You are not walking in my shoes, so do not judge.  I just lost my everything, my whole world has been turned upside down. 

What are some of the best, most practically helpful/comforting things people in your life actually did for you that helped you? 

When David was in the hospital, my church family was there, as well as other friends.  When I would get up and move, they would surround me and move with me.  If I would go downstairs, they were there with me.  If I all of a sudden said I want to go upstairs, they all got up and moved with me.   I was so numb about my husband being in there on his deathbed, that I literally felt like those people were carrying me, instead of me walking.   Then of course, My Pastor was there the whole time almost right by my side, at the hospital, making the arraignments, at the funeral.   My church family and other friends brought meals for a week, and they all started a fund to raise money and help me with some of the expenses, and to give me a little cushion to help me get by for a while.   Friends would take me out to lunch, and spend time with me.   I will have to say, I think I have the best church family, and the best friends, ever.  I love them with all my heart. 

Did you experience any special touch from the Lord at this time or more of His presence in your life? Please tell us about it.  

I drew strength from Jesus.  I trust in Him, and He was and is my strength.  I spoke at my husband’s funeral.   I know that God put it in my heart to speak, and I know that it was his strength not mine that got me through that.   God is still holding me in His arms, and I truly could not make it a day without Him.

Is there any specific advice you would offer to someone who is facing losing someone close to them, like a spouse, relative or child?  

I would say, just trust in God, lean on Jesus.  Don’t be afraid to grieve, it is a process that you have to go through.   People told me to wait a year to make any major decisions. Well I made one or two kind a bit too quickly.  So I will tell you.  WAIT!  

Is there a specific bible verse that has come to mean a lot to you because of this painful experience? 

Yes !  Right after my husband went home to be with Jesus, My Pastor did a sermon of Romans 8:28. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

ALL THINGS!   ALL THINGS!!  Work together for good to them that love God.
I stood on this word, through it all.  It was a God Word, at the right time in my life.


Thank you for your friendship, and thank you for the honor of doing this interview.  I hope that someone receives some hope through this.   It is a daily struggle to go on without the love of your life, your soul mate.  When God said you become as one, you do.  When one leaves, you are now a half.  Feels like you have been split right down the middle, and you are missing your best half.    I will always love, MY ATTEBERRY”   I always called him by his last name.   He will forever be in my heart and my thoughts.  I know I will see him again soon.

Rebecca - thank you for sharing your story. I hope it will, in some small way, help others who are facing the same thing. Most of all, I pray for the Lord of all comfort to comfort your heart.

Surviving Haley - What if Your Mistake is Unforgivable? - Author Interview

Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I’ve always liked writing and telling stories, but I didn’t get serious about writing until later in life.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I think all characters are based on real people. I mix their traits to create unique, different characters needed for a particular story. 

What was the most interesting research you had to do for your books?
I wanted to write about an eating disorder, but bulimia and anorexia have been covered extensively, so I found out binge-eating disorder is a real affliction.

Where do you go to do your research?
I can usually find enough information on the internet to cover any topic. The main character’s best friend in “Surviving Haley,” is a girl from India. Since some of my students and their families come from India, I knew a bit about their culture. For the rest, I read online articles. 

How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?  Is the process the same for every book you write?  How long does it take you to write a book
I start with a subject I feel passionate about and then develop a main character to fit the story. Overeating and homelessness are two things that interest me. Yes, the process was the same for the second book. I picked a subject and went on from there. It takes me at least a year to complete a first draft and then longer to rewrite it. I do rewrite chapters as I go, but then I have to analyze the whole story when I’m done and fix any plot issues.

Are you currently working on any new book projects?

Yes. I’m almost finished with another YA contemporary novel about a girl whose family loses their house through foreclosure and end up living at a campground.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book?  Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?

If you want to be a writer, don’t give up. Keep writing. If you want to be an author (a published writer) you will have to work the business side of writing as well. Be prepared to promote yourself and your work online and in person. Establish relationships with other writers and future readers. Have an online presence even before you are published.

What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I write every week, but not necessarily every day. Although I’m currently shooting for 500 words per day. I’m not a morning person, so it’s better if I write in the late afternoon or evening.

Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies? 
 Yeah, I whisper words as I’m typing them. It helps me know how a passage sounds.

What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? ~ POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?

Definitely plotting. I don’t outline or even plan out my chapters and scenes—they happen on the page. It would be easier to plan ahead, but ideas don’t come to me when I try. I get a chapter written then my critique group comments on it. I’ll often rewrite that chapter before I go on to the next.    

Brenda has generously offered to provide a kindle version of Surviving Haley to someone who comments on this blog post. Please feel free to ask a question of the author or leave a comment in order to be eligible to win.      

Brenda Baker is a teacher who lives in Nebraska with her husband and a mixed husky. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, word games, swimming, traveling, and spending time with family.

Have you ever lost someone dear to you?

The image above is a famous painting that is called "Repose on the Flight to Egypt". It is a hauntingly beautiful painting that perfectly typifies to me the hardship that Mary and Joseph endured in order to keep their newborn son, Jesus, safe from Herod.  The angel told them to flee into Egypt until Herod was dead. Can you imagine having to pick up and leave everything and everyone you know on such short notice? There were no Motel 6's or Holiday Inn's on the way there, nothing to ease their journey. Jesus was born into the harshest and most helpless of circumstances in order to set us free.

Christmas can be a season of joy but for many it only brings intense pain and regret. Many people I know have lost spouses, parents and friends this past year. For them, the pain of loss just becomes more intense during the holidays.

Have you ever lost someone dear/close to you? I have. When I was 22 I lost my first love, Barry, to a brain aneurysm in late November.

My dear friend, Vicki - lost her husband Henry who is featured in the first story of my book Make a Wish last January and this will be her first Christmas without him. She often posts how much she misses him and there is nothing I can say or do to comfort her.

A friend of mine whose daughter used to play with mine when they were little died last summer from lung cancer, leaving behind a husband and two grieving daughters.

A friend I know through social media lost her beloved husband in what can only be described as medical malpractice this past year.

Although all the people I have mentioned above are believers and have hope that they will all see their loved ones again in heaven, it doesn't take away the grief, pain and loneliness. I'm sure their family members and friends do all they can to involve them and keep them busy but there will come a time, perhaps late at night on Christmas Eve, when they will be grieving all alone.  Do you know anyone like this? Have you given any thought as to how you might help this time of year? Perhaps invite them over for dinner Christmas Eve or to a church service? Include them as extended family in your celebrations?

Tell me about the people in your lives who have gone through a heart-breaking loss of a loved one. I would love to hear all about it.

The Church in America

When I came to faith in Jesus Christ as 17 as a nonreligious Jew, it was because of a sense of obligation. Seeing how he suffered during the crucifixion scene in Jesus of Nazareth made me think “…if he can do that for me, the least I can do is to give Him my life!” and I did, without any real sense of personal sin or repentance.

I had barely begun to live my life at that age, and had, up to that time, basically been living a “clean” life.

The older I get, however, the more I realize that I am just as big a sinner to God as Hitler was. The sins I struggle with are different but no less egregious. In fact, Proverbs 6:16-19 lists the following sins which God seems to hate the most:

These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 

A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brethren.

I would hazard to say that the above are probably the most common forms of sin that are most prevalent in the average church congregation.

PRIDE – the sin that made Lucifer fall and become the enemy of God and our souls. (“a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” I know I’m guilty of this – thinking I’m better than those who commit the more obvious “sins”. It’s a constant battle to fight this prideful thought process.  As humans we are always seeking ways to justify ourselves. None of us would fare well if we stood to give an account before the Lord God almighty were it not for the blood of Jesus cleansing us of our sins!

LIAR“a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood”. Jesus said: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

MURDER OF THE INNOCENT – what could be more innocent than a helpless unborn baby yet our society has stood by and allowed the wholesale slaughter of over 57 million babies since 1973 under the guise of “choice”? As long as we individually and as a society uphold “pro-choice” our hands are guilty of innocent blood.

WICKED/PLANS – "plans that are evil or morally bad in principle or practice; sinful; iniquitous"

Personally I think the last three go together to perfectly describe gossip mongers. I think it’s safe to say that gossip is one of the most prevalent, destructive and overlooked sins in the church. It destroys lives but it is hardly ever discussed from the pulpit. It would probably make too many people squirm.

I am as appalled by the Supreme Court’s decision about gay marriage now being the law of the land as anyone else. We should be fasting and praying for revival all right, just not for America but revival in THE CHURCH. The church in America has degraded to one of these mentioned in the Book of Revelation:

The Dead Church
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,

‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.[a] Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You[b] have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

The Lukewarm Church

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[g] I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

I want Jesus to always be my first love. I do not want to compromise. I want to enter through the narrow gate.

There is a chilling warning in the book of Revelation. Take a look at the first word in this list and think on it. Do you think it may apply specifically to us in His church who abandon Christ when it “gets too hard”? We may be called in America to suffer incredible persecution for our faith. Will we be cowards and compromise or will we be faithful?

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

With The end of the Shemitah Year (and Year of Jubilee) in sight as of this September, the four blood moons and events occurring all over the world, have you personally given any serious thought to just HOW CLOSE we may be to the rapture and the Great Tribulation? I don’t want to be here for that horrific time of God’s judgment.  I don’t want to harbor any attitudes or exhibit lazy, cowardly behavior that would result in my being left behind should the rapture occur before the last 7 years. I want my lamp to be filled with oil!

I am not a prophet. I don’t have dreams or visions but the handwriting is on the wall, folks. The church needs to get on her knees and repent! No more wealth and health being the focus of sermons. No more focusing on having the best life on this earth. We are living on borrowed time...