Saturday, December 28, 2013

Imagine the Future You by Ada Brownell

    I don't often review books here at Writing with God's Hope blog, but I found a special book for young adults and new adults that I believe is worth recommending.

     My oldest daughter, Julia Clark, once told me that our churches didn't prepare kids for college. After having given her heart to Christ at a young age and then attending church through high school,  she took a course in Western Civilization at college that almost threw her. No one had questioned her about her faith until then. No one had placed alternative roads to life before her. Ada Brownell's latest release, Imagine the Future You does just that--prepares young people for their future.

     Brownell tells the reader what it takes to be a success in business, in marriage, in life. The words read more like fiction, interesting, captivating, unique. The author uses the imagine theme for each section; imagine you falling in love, imagine you as an older adult, imagine you achieving your dreams ...  At the end of the book, Brownell asks questions from each chapter to test your comprehension and application for life.  Part of the book reads like a Christian apologist, giving young people evidence for a belief in God.

     The back of the book lists questions that are answered in this book. Here is a few:
     How harnessing your will can make you a champion.
     How to look and be your best.
     How to avoid traps that jeopardize your future.

     Ms. Brownell knows her stuff and cites her facts in an orderly, understandable fashion. She spent 17 years as a newspaper reporter. Her writing encompasses 275 articles. Her fiction stories show up in 45 different magazines. Her books include Swallowed by Life and Confessions of A Pentecostal.  Her prolific writing and researching gives her access to studies that will convince the most doubtful new adult.

     Purchase this book at:
      http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06

Ada Brownell sent me a copy of this book to review. I am most grateful to her.

If you've read this book, leave a comment to let us know. Also, feel free to ask questions about the book. It's a must read for anyone from 15-30.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

THE CHRISTMAS GEESE

     Once there was a man who didn't believe in Jesus, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays like Christmas and Easter. His wife, however, was a believer and raised their children to have faith in God and Jesus.

     One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived.  She asked him to come, but he refused. "That story is nonsense," he said, "Why would God lower Himself to come to earth as a man?"

     So, she and the children left, and he stayed home.  Awhile later the winds grew stronger, and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat to relax before the fire for the evening. Then, he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then, another thump, He looked out but couldn't see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on the window.

      In a field near his house, he saw a flock of wild geese  Apparently, they had gotten caught in the snowstorm and were lost, and a couple of them had flown into his window. They were stranded on the farm with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around his field, blindly and aimlessly.

     The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. His barn would be a great place for them to stay. It was safe and warm, and they could spend the night there and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they woud notice the open barn and go inside.

     But, the geese just fluttered around and did not seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean to them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them, and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back with some bread, broke it up, and made a trail of breadcrumbs leading into the barn. They still didn't catch on. The man was getting frustrated.

     He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only became more scared and scattered in every direction. Nothing he did got them to go into the barn where they would be safe and warm. "Why don't they follow me," he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?"

     He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into the barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released his goose. It flew through the flock and straight into the barn. One by one, the wild geese followed it to safety.

      The man stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind, "If only I were a goose, then I could save them." He thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God lower Himself to come to earth as a man?" Suddenly, it all made sense. That is exactly what God had done.

     We were like the geese--blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us, so He could show us the way to be saved

     The man realized this was the meaning of Christmas. As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet .  He contemplated that thought. This was why Christ had come. Years of doubt and unbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow and prayed his first prayer. "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to save me from the storm. 

                                                                                                         Author unknown

     A sweet friend of mine sent us a Christmas card with this story enclosed. I had not heard the Christmas geese story, but found it touched my heart. I pondered this example of Christ being the reason for the season. Posting it today is my Christmas gift to those who follow my blog.

     Thank you, all, for stopping by. I appreciate you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Interview with Singer/Writer Tara Johnson

At the 2012 ACFW conference in Dallas, I sat at a table with a young lady that I immediately fell in love with. She talked of Christ's love and faithfulness and gave me a demo CD of her songs. What a kindness that was. I thanked her but never realized how much that CD would minister through the next year. The title song is "It's a Brand New Day." Talk about encouragement, it's there.

I emailed this lady and asked if I could interview her. She graciously accepted my offer. Help me welcome Tara Johnson to my Writing with God's Hope blog today.


    Tara, when did you know you wanted a career in singing?


   I remember being tucked into my bed at the age of six and daydreaming about what my life would be. I was suddenly struck  with this image: I was looking out from the middle of a well-lit stage, microphone in hand, watching a large crowd listen as I sang. But honestly, as I got older the thought that I could ever be a singer felt ridiculous. For one thing, I didn't think I was that good! I spent high school and the first part of college determined that I wouldn't go into music. As much as I loved it, it didn't provide a very stable income. Instead, I entered the education program...and was miserable. God finally caught my attention and I ended up changing my major to music with emphasis in voice and songwriting. The rest is history!

 
      When did you make your first CD?

   In 2002. It was a custom album a friend of mine and I put together before I signed with Incubator Creative Group.

 

       How many CDs do you have?

   "Sweet Mercy" and a Christmas album entitled "O Holy Night" along with lots of individual singles. I need to get them compiled into a new project! With itunes shifting so much of the way music is sold, it's much more feasible these days to work on individual singles than huge CD projects. I'm guessing that CDs will soon become a thing of the past, another item to add to the retro pile along with 8 tracks and vinyl records.

     Ah, yes, I still have some records that are keepsakes.  Do you write your own songs?

   Yes, much of the time. My concerts are a mix of original music and cover tunes but I love to write my own when I can. And whenever I need a good laugh, I work on creating parodies. For example, I changed the old song Daddy's Hands to Daddy's Hair. It's a tribute to my awesome Dad and his, um, hair-challenged predicament. :)

 
   That's funny. Do you have another job or career besides music?

   Yes and I confess it's hard to describe. There's no good job title for it. My manager calls it 'being a musicianary'! In 2004, I signed with Incubator Creative Group which is a record label and management company out of Santa Clara, Oregon. Basically, I help encourage people battling depression, people pleasing and grief, all struggles I've dealt with in depth. In fact, this past year I wrote a book about it! (Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that Make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie) I travel to churches, women's retreats, prisons (basically anyone who is willing to put up with me) and talk about how radically God has transformed my life. So along with music, I do a lot of public speaking, comedy and writing.

 
  Do you still go to writer’s conferences with your mom?

   Absolutely! We are planning on attending the national ACFW conference in St. Louis next year. It's a great time for both of us to get creatively energized, deepen our craft and bond a little closer. And laugh. We always laugh.

 
Does your mom still write?

   At the moment, no. Her job is full-time and extremely stressful. She is brimming with ideas but hasn't had a chance to start fleshing them out yet. But when she does, I'll be her biggest fan! Actually, I suppose I already am.

 
 If one song could tell your life story, what would that song be?

   Wow. That's a tough one. That's like asking a chef what his favorite recipe is! I would probably have to say a song I wrote called December Songbird. Over the past several years, I've lost two babies in miscarriages and have learned that praise is a choice. This song encompasses the idea of what Job declared. "The LORD has given and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Come what may, I will continue to praise His great name.

         Tell us something about yourself that we might not have heard.

   Haha! I've been doing that game on facebook where a person is given a number and they have to list a certain number of things people may not know about them. So I suppose that list can apply here too! Here are my top six:

          * I've done my fair share of cow-tipping.
* I can only sleep on the cool side of the pillow.
* I used to have a wall-hanging in my bedroom growing up that spelled out my name     with each letter hooked together. T-A-R-A. My brother would come in and re-arrange them on a regular basis to spell A-R-A-T. 
* My nieces and nephews call me "Aunt Spaz" and think that's my real name.
* During our wedding ceremony, the church caught on fire. True story.
* I am the biggest history nerd of all time.

           Where do you do your best writing or practicing?

   I can write just about anywhere but my favorite is my front porch when the weather is nice. I have a bench surrounded by flowers that I can relax in while I type away on my laptop. Usually if I'm out there, my kids are too. Getting to hear their squeals and giggles as they ride their scooters or play with their dogs on the front lawn is a great way to write.               It's also my favorite place to study my Bible.

          I love to practice music at my piano, mainly because of the sweet memories it brings. It's an old player piano that my Grandpa gave my Grandma on their first anniversary. That was over sixty years ago. When I was little, I would sit next to Grandpa on that old piano bench and giggle as he played Has Anybody Seen my Gal?. Every time he sang "five foot two, eyes of blue", he would elbow me in the ribs and grin. I always think of him when play that old piano.
 
Thank you, Tara , for stopping by to answer all my questions.  I've loved getting better acquainted with you.

Tara Johnson is a singer, author and songwriter from Alexander, AR.  In 2004, she signed with Incubator Creative Group, a Christian and ministry based record label out of Eugene, OR.  Tara loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share her testimony of how God led her out of a life of people-pleasing and depression into a new walk with Him. 

 This past year has kept Tara busy with singing engagements, counseling with people who are battling depression and writing her fourth book Hollow Victory.  In 2012, she won the Bronze Medal in the Frazier awards hosted by My Book Therapy and has articles published in Plain Truth Magazine. She and her husband Todd have been married for sixteen years and the Lord has blessed them with five children:  Bethany (10), Callie (7), Nathan (4 months) and Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane who are with Jesus.

 You can contact Tara at  www.TaraJohnsonMinistries,  through facebook, twitter (@TaraMinistry) or email her at tara@taraministries.com
 

 
Janet, here - I'd like to add a footnote of my own. Tara recently sent me her book Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie.

I began reading it right away, but as posted previously, I'm a slow reader. Also, I keep a fiction and a non-fiction book going at the same time. I wanted to give this short review.

I find Hollow Victory encouraging, inspiring, and helpful. The story of the Songbird touched my life. We must learn to deal with grief, depression, people-pleasing, perfectionism, and fear/anxiety to live in victory. Tara gives us ways to disarm these using God's tried and true methods. These landmines destroy compulsive people like me. I can and will use Tara's prescribed methods for myself and teach them in my weekly Divine Dining weight loss classes here in Wichita Falls, TX.

Thank you, Tara, for being obedient to God in writing this book. Thanks also for sending me a copy. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Christmas Kindness by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Today, I welcome a wonderful online friend, Cheryl C. Malandrinos. She reviews books on her site. Her children's books are precious. Let me recommend to the followers of "Writing with God's Hope" blog her latest release, a beautiful Christmas book, just in time to purchase for that special little someone on your list.


Cheryl, tell us a little about yourself.

 

Thanks for having me, Janet. I’m a wife and stay-at-home mom who has been an avid reader all her life. I’m the author of Little Shepherd and A Christmas Kindness; the latter written under my pen name, C.C. Gevry. The publisher recently released a digital version of the book.

 

Tell us about your writing journey.

 

I had dreamed of becoming a writer since childhood, but I didn’t pursue that dream until I left Corporate America in 2004. Entering the Breaking into Print program offered by Long Ridge Writers Group, I focused on article writing. After graduation in 2005, I connected with Lea Schizas and the Muse Group. She started The Muse Online Writers Conference, which is where I met an Australian writer who gave me my first paid job writing time management and organization articles for writers. This conference is also how I met both of my publishers. Little Shepherd came out in 2010, followed by A Christmas Kindness in 2012. I also have a picture book under contract, currently titled, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving.

 

I like writing time management tips, too. How neat that you started writing that way. Congratulations on the book you have contracted. Did you ever feel like giving up?  And how did you press through this?

 

I’m a stubborn person, so giving up isn’t in my nature. Just tell me I can’t do something and I’ll work twice as hard to prove you wrong. Rejections are tough. I think the quickest rejection letter came within a week of my submission. That hurts. Still no contracts from agents, either. In some ways it’s a blessing that I had a tough childhood, because I learned to depend on myself and not let too much get in my way. I also firmly believe that God has a plan for my life and that He has called me to write. If that’s true, as long as I keep my heart open to His direction, things will fall into place.

 

As for pressing through, I give myself a day to whine after receiving a rejection, but then I forget it and move on. I have numerous ideas in my head and several picture books written, but not as much time as I would like to focus on my career because of responsibilities at home and work. Time is too precious to waste worrying over what happened yesterday.

 



Oh, Cheryl, I love that thought. Time is too precious. What gave you the idea for A Christmas Kindness?

 

The idea for A Christmas Kindness came from a desire to encourage my girls to think more of what they can do for others than how many gifts are under the Christmas tree. Jesus called all of us to have a servant’s heart, so I hope this book reminds them of that, as much as our volunteer work does.

 

How do you feel this book will encourage children, or did you have something in mind like this when you wrote it?

 

Not only will A Christmas Kindness encourage kids to consider others, it will show them that you don’t have to spend money to make a huge difference in someone’s life.

 

Anything more you'd like to add?

 

When A Christmas Kindness was first published as a softcover, it came out under my pen name, C.C. Gevry. My original thought was that since it wasn’t a religious project and not part of my “Faith-filled journeys for kids” brand, I needed the pen name. Later on, I realized that both books are connected because they are set during Christmas and are message-driven fiction. That’s why the digital version was released this year under my real name, Cheryl C. Malandrinos. Eventually, the printed version will be republished under my actual name, too.

 

Also, I have to mention the lovely artwork provided by Caroline Mabey. Her illustrations are beautiful. I am so thrilled she was selected to illustrate A Christmas Kindness.

 

I like the cover. Beautiful. Where can people find you?

 


 


 

I’m on Twitter @ccgevry or @ccmalandrinos. You can also find me on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4341623.Cheryl_C_Malandrinos

 

Where can we purchase your book?

 

A Christmas Kindness can be purchased from my publisher at http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/cheryl-c-malandrinos-or-cc-gevry.php It can also be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

The digital version can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and soon on iTunes.

 

One last question, if you could be a type of music, what would it be?

Gospel music. I hope my writing inspires and empowers young people.
 
Thank you so much, Cheryl. I enjoyed getting better acquainted. I hope many will take advantage of purchasing this book. A Christmas Kindness will make an ideal children's gift.