Category Archives: Interview

How Did God Lead Marianne to Social Justice?

A Powerful Story of God’s Persistence and a Woman’s Obedience

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Marianne Jones, author, blogger, scriptwriter.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” ~ Malala Yousafzai

Marianne

Marianne didn’t let anything stop her from speaking out. Here is her story.

I knew from the time I was ten I wanted to be a writer. I was an insatiable reader and loved to memorize poetry and write my own. When I was 14, I saw an ad for a national writing competition from a now-defunct magazine called Miss Chatelaine. I decided to enter, as a test, to see if I had what it took. I was shocked when I actually won. It seemed like confirmation, but it also scared me, and because of my perfectionism and fear of failure, I didn’t do a lot of writing for a long time.

In my twenties, married, with two children, I decided to try seriously to write, and took a Christian correspondence course in writing. I thought that I’d give writing one year, and if I hadn’t sold anything in that year, I’d give myself permission to quit. That year I sold an article to Woman’s Touch magazine (also defunct now, but I don’t think it had anything to do with my article) for $15.

I felt that God had given me my answer.

Still, it was not smooth sailing after that. I had years of tears, discouragement, rejection letters. But God wouldn’t let me go. Every time I was on the verge of quitting, I’d sell another piece. And I began writing for local newspapers, which taught me how to do interviews and brought in a small salary.

I first heard about IJM (International Justice Mission) at church.

Right away I was hooked.

So often we look at things like human trafficking and think, “That’s awful, but what can I do about it?” Here was a Christian organization that was doing a great deal about it!

The idea of writing a play about their work kept gnawing at me.

I had written a play about the work of the Salvation Army in Thunder Bay, and it had done well. I ordered Gary Haugen’s book, “Terrify No More,” to get a sense of how they carry out their rescue operations, and used it as a model for a play that I wrote and directed at church. We had a fabulous cast and team, and raised $22,000 from that evening!

I have been involved to a smaller extent with other things my husband Reg  has spearheaded. He formed a committee at church to sponsor two Syrian refugee families and help settle them in Thunder Bay. Both families are doing very well, and have become good friends. They are eternally grateful to the committee and to our church. Reg has also formed a “Walking Together” group at church to explore ways in which we can partner with First Nations people and promote healing, and reconciliation. This has been an exciting venture in our city, with the Walking Together group growing and gaining traction and influence in the city and some northern communities.

God has led all the way.

When I was a young Christian, churches seemed to be mainly concerned about evangelism among people that were similar to themselves.

Social justice was not considered to be the church’s work.

That never felt right to me or Reg. Throughout the Bible, God talks about injustice and oppression. Jesus spoke of breaking chains and preaching good news to the poor. This is an exciting time, when we are seeing God lead in showing His love to refugees, slaves, and people trapped in poverty and addiction. His love is not just toward those of us who live in a comfortable middle-class bubble.

I am thrilled at what God  is doing!

Several years ago I heard Linda Stewardson share her story at church. We were riveted as she told of being stabbed as a child by her stepfather, put into a garbage bag, and left to die.

As she continued, I thought, “This is a book. I have to write her story!”

I approached her later about it, and she was willing to work with me on a manuscript. Later, I entered it in a publishing contest run by Word Alive Press with Women’s Journey of Faith, and it won! Linda has spoken to women in prison, girls in crisis, College classes for child and youth workers, and everywhere she is invited. People are always enthralled by her story of how God enabled her to overcome her past and thrive. She has appeared on 100 Huntley Street three times, and the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction awarded her the Courage to Come Back award.

Marianne

A powerful story of the impact one story can have

While Linda and I were signing copies at the launch of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die at Women’s Journey of Faith in Saskatoon, a young woman stood near. She hung back. When there was a free moment, she came closer, hesitated, and then said, “Thank you for writing this.” Her eyes filled with tears, and she appeared to be struggling.

“Does this story resonate with you?” I asked. She nodded, and managed to share that she, like Linda, had experienced severe abuse in her life. Linda and I both embraced her and tried to convey our sympathy. I asked her if she was getting support, and she said yes. She also said that often people didn’t want to hear about it.

I told her that there is power in sharing one’s story.

The Girl Who wouldn’t Die

Watch it by clicking the link above.

Someone else came with a book for signing, and I turned to them, as Linda continued to speak with the young woman. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any contact information from her to continue the conversation, but she has stayed in our hearts and prayers since.


Linda said to me, “That’s the whole reason for this book. That’s why we did this.”
I couldn’t agree more.

Marianne

Linda and Marianne at book signing.

People are often uncomfortable at topics like sexual abuse and human trafficking.

They would rather change the subject and move on to something more pleasant. But I don’t see that as an option. How can we turn our backs on our sisters (and brothers) who, through no fault of their own, are  treated as objects for abuse? I can handle the unpleasantness of the topic. I’ve heard women share their stories with me.

Their stories don’t depress me. Rather, they motivate me to do something about it.

Like everyone else, I have limited time, money and energy. But like the boy who gave his bread and fish to Jesus to be shared, I can give my small offerings of time and talent, trusting that God will multiply them.

The Kindle version of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die can be found here.
For a print copy, email her

Marianne is a team member for Chain Breakers at IJMCanada. Please consider donating to this worthy cause.

Chain Breakers.

 

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION is a global organization that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. International Justice Mission Canada shares in this mission.

 

Worth Living by Mary DeMuth

Worth Living by Mary DeMuth – Thoughtful Thursdays

It is my pleasure to introduce Mary DeMuth. Mary is the author of many wonderful books. On May 3rd her new book will be offered for sale, Worth Living. Just look at her smile at the bottom of the page and you can see that Jesus shines through her.

Worth Living

Tell me a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

I met Jesus in high school. I had no church background up to that point. I learned about Jesus through the ministry of Young Life. After experiencing a traumatic childhood, I could so relate to Jesus, and I hesitated to believe that he could possibly love me. But oh how I wanted that love.

When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

Yes, it started with a positive comment from my second grade teacher, then morphed into a whole lot of journaling. In college, I was an English major. I taught English for a few years, then stayed home with my children. That’s when I dusted off the dream. I spent ten years writing in obscurity and then met a literary agent in 2004, sold a couple books, and have published 2-3 a year since then.

How and when do you spend time with God? Do you have a favourite devotional? What version of Bible do you use the most?

I spend time talking with God all day long, a continual conversation. I also enjoy studying the Bible. I’ve memorized several verses (which is a huge blessing when I’m in the middle of a trial.) Lately I’ve been doing more art journaling and art response for my time in the Bible. I like several translations, but currently really love the New Living Translation.

As a writer, time is important; quiet is important. How do you find that quiet time to reflect and write?

Now that my children are nearly grown, I have a lot more time. When they were younger, they also had “quiet time” in the afternoon so we could all have time to get our heads on straight. I also grab solitude when I travel.

What is one deep desire that you would like God to fulfill for you? What Scripture could you find that could help you accomplish that goal?

I would like to do more speaking in churches and conferences. I believe God is opening up those doors.

‘But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” 2 Timothy 4:5

Prayer:

Jesus, please open doors for the person reading this post. Fulfill dreams. Give hope. Encourage the faint hearted. We trust You for our journeys, no matter how they look. Amen.

Ask Mary DeMuth to speak at your church or conference. Read about her faith. #worthliving (tweet this)

Mary DeMuth

Worth Living

Mary DeMuth is an international speaker and podcaster, and she’s the author of over thirty books, the latest: Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Makes You Worthy. She loves to help people re-story their lives. She lives in Texas with her husband of 25 years and is the mom to three adult children. Find out more at marydemuth.com.

Milk Eggs Prophecy – Debbie Kitterman

Milk Eggs Prophecy – Debbie Kitterman

Today I would like to welcome a new friend Debbie Kitterman. She is the author of a most interesting book called Milk Eggs Prophecy. That’s right – that is the name. Debbie explains in her book how it got that name. But I don’t want to give that away. You’ll have to read her book to find out. I did receive the copy of the book free from the author. But I love it.

This book challenges the way we understand the prophetic. God has given us the gift of prophecy and He intends us to make it a staple in our daily walk with Him.
MilkEggs coverfrontframe

Tell me a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

I started attending church when I was 5 years old. My mother says I gave me heart to Jesus when I was 3 years old at a Christmas edition of a 5-day club. I actually remember attending the event even though I was 3, but I do not remember saying Yes to Jesus then. I probably remember the event because I was in love with Mrs. Young, she was a like a grandma to me and was the one who hosted it at her home.

I actually remember asking Jesus to be Lord of my life when I was 8 years old. – It was at a 5 day club in our backyard one summer. While I had my moments of rebelliousness when I was in high school and my early college years, I still attended church and it was my mother’s prayers, that my solid foundation I had built into me as a child attending church and my faith in God that has sustained me through the ups and downs of life.

When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

I started writing when I was a young girl. I would write short stories, poetry, and journal (diary) entries. I enjoyed the process of creative writing. I have a very vivid imagination and am a dreamer, which makes for good content. When asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I would answer, “That’s easy. A wife, a mother, and a writer!

However, my first year in college, I took a creative writing class and, let’s just say it was a very unpleasant experience. I ended up dropping the class and made a vow to never write anything again, I didn’t even journal. I did eventual begin to keep a journal again, but even though I had the desire to write, and thoughts about stories, I never did.

That is, until late 2007 when the Lord told me he wanted me to write.

It was a challenging and difficult process to begin to write again. I also received much healing through the process and completely forgave my college professor and the words she spoke over me many years before. At the end of the process, I had written a training manual to teach people how to hear God’s voice, therefore deepening their relationship with Him. The training manual led to my next book project Milk, Eggs, Prophecy – a healthy new take on the radically ordinary nature of prophecy. It also rekindled my passion for writing.

What is the best thing you have written? Describe it. Tell me why you think it is the best. (so far)

What is the best thing I have written? Wow, that is a tough one – I write all the time and while I have a book, a training manual, a journal, and symbol guide, as soon as I read this question, I immediately had a picture flash in my mind of the story binder I kept as a kid. One particular story came to mind about horses… I am not sure it is the best thing I have written so far, but it is funny that it immediately came to mind.

If I had to choose between all my projects that I have written, I would probably say my training Manual, Releasing Gods Heart through Hearing His Voice, is the best thing I have written. Why do I think that? Because since it was published in 2008 there have been several hundred people in different countries that have taken the course and utilized the book learning to recognize the voice of God in their lives. This book has also been published in Spanish. It is really excited to see something that God inspired me to write, bless, equip, and minister to others around the world.

How and when do you spend time with God? Do you have a favourite devotional? What version of Bible do you use the most?

I spend time having a conversation with the Lord throughout my day, but my all-time favorite way to spend time with Him, is through Bible Journaling. I recently discovered this creative and fun way to get in the word and see Scriptures like I haven’t seen them before. I delight each time God pours out a new revelation or insight to me, plus, I get permission to play with crayons, markers, pens, and other art supplies. My favorite version of the Bible is NIV – my Bible journal is ESV. Last year, I purchased The Voice Bible and have enjoyed reading from it as well. When I preparing teachings, or am researching, I personally like to look at different translations of the Bible because it helps me see more than I would from just one version. During the warmer months, my favorite spot for devotions is sitting outside on the small deck just off my bedroom. It’s peaceful and relaxing to sit anytime, but even more so when I am in the Word.

Milk Eggs Prophecy

What is your favourite scripture or scriptures and why? What is your thinking about memorizing Scripture? Do you have any tips for our readers on ways to memorize that work the best for you?

Wow – that is a tough question – I have a lot of favorite scriptures – just ask anyone who has listened to me teach, they are all my favorites. I mean the Bible is full of so many Spiritual Truths! However, one of my all-time favorite, life verses is Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (NIV)

Ok, I will share one more – Romans 8 is one of my all-time favorite chapters in the Bible – Living Life in the Spirit! That’s what is all about. These verses in Romans 8:15-17 are especially important to me. I am a child of God and fear has no place in my life!

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…(NIV)

Do you have hobbies, or sports that you are interested in? What is it about these activities that you like? Looking at your personality are these activities ones that God has brought to you?

Hobbies/Sports interest: I love the hunt for a good bargain and especially enjoy going to flea markets and antique shops. I have a passion for chalk painting furniture and being creative. For my birthday last year, I got a camera and it is a new hobby I am really learning and enjoying, which makes my family really happy, because, you see, I was always the person who would cut off people’s heads in my photos or end up with blurry pictures, but not anymore.

My favorite past time is going to the movies – when I need to refuel, you will often find me sneaking away to the movies. I love to play softball, in my younger years, I would play on several different teams and also fill in as needed on a few more. I have long since hung up my cleats, however, I do miss playing competitively though. Now, my fun sport minded-interest is CrossFit. I am not the fittest person in the gym, and I am pretty sure I am one of the oldest ladies there, but I have been doing CrossFit faithfully for the last year. This is huge since I really don’t care for exercise at all, but I LOVE Crossfit. I enjoy it so much, I get up and go to the 6:30 am class with my husband (and I am not a morning person).

What is one important lesson that Jesus is teaching or has taught you that has changed your worldview, your outlook, and/or your relationships?

I think the most profound lesson God has taught me, besides the revelation of His love for me, was when He spoke on little phrase to my heart during worship several years ago. It was after I had finished writing my training manual, Releasing God’s Heart through Hearing His Voice. I was getting ready to teach from it for the very first time –and during a time of worship with the Lord, He said, “It’s all about relationship!” I of course thought I knew what He was talking about, however, I really did not. God never speaks something to us without leading us to an understanding.

God has taken me on a journey of realizing that everything we do in our Christian walk with Jesus is all about Relationship. (tweet this)

Relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and then relationship with others. We can all have an authentic, real relationship with Him first and gain understanding of who He is. Then, we can share and spread that revelation with others who we are in relationship with. Even if that relationship is only for a minute as we stand in line at the grocery store, or those we are in relationship with for a lifetime.

Prayer:

I pray that each person reading this interview would be awakened to the powerful gifts the Holy Spirit has deposited within them. I pray that God would not only pour out His wisdom upon us daily, but that He would breathe afresh and new and give us powerful revelations of who He is. I pray that our spiritual eyes and ears be opened to receive all that God has in store. God speak to each one of us today, and thank you for your son Jesus who modeled so well what it means to have relationship with you as our Heavenly Father.

Milk eggs prophecy

SONY DSC

Debbie Kitterman, is an author, speaker, and the founder of Dare 2 Hear, a ministry training individuals in hearing the voice of God. She is also a licensed Foursquare pastor currently serving with her husband, Pastor John Kitterman, as Senior Pastors of Restoration Church in Lacey Washington. Debbie travels to churches internationally equipping the body of Christ.

Debbie is a breath of fresh air. She is a powerfully anointed woman of God, who ministers in the
prophetic with a down-to-earth teaching style and a wonderful sense of humor. She has a true servant’s heart, and is called to teach a deeper understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ by working to train and equip others in how to hear the voice of God.

 

In her new book, Milk Eggs Prophecy, Debbie refuses to perpetuate the myths and mystery surrounding prophecy. She opens the “closed” doors of the prophetic and invites you to sit down and get comfortable. She reveals her life experiences both good and bad, and shares the truths the Lord has revealed to her through his Word.

God is speaking… Can you hear Him?

Milk Eggs Prophecy on Amazon – click here.

You’re invited you to connect with Debbie on the following social media:

Website: www.DebbieKitterman.com  www.Dare2Hear.com

Follow Debbie’s blog

Like us on Face Book at: Dare 2 Hear

Twitter: @Dare2Hear and @DebbieKitterman

Instagram: Dare2Hear

Pinterest: Dare 2 Hear – Debbie Kitterman

Enter to Win a copy of Milk Eggs Prophecy by Debbie Kitterman (click to tweet)

You can buy your copy on Amazon.

You have a chance to win this marvellous book, Milk Eggs Prophecy, by entering below. If you have any questions or problems please email Janis.

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Peace for a Lifetime – Win a copy!

Peace for a Lifetime – Win a Copy!

Today is Thoughtful Thursdays and it is my pleasure to welcome Lisa Murray author of Peace for a Lifetime. As I read her book I know that if you haven’t found peace her words certainly will help you discover it through our Lord Jesus. I am praying to have the ability to remember Scripture like Lisa does.

Peace for a Lifetime Lisa Murray

Tell me a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

I was born and raised in the church. My mother and father were both active, my mom being a Sunday School teacher for over 50 years. I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 13 yrs old at a youth camp in North Carolina.

When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

I used to love to read. Never thought of myself as a writer. In my teens and twenties I was a lyricist and singer in the Christian music industry. I found I had a deep love for words. How powerful they could be in our lives.

What new project/s are you working on? Why do they seem important to you? Are you compelled to write or do you need to find inspiration? How do you deal with interruptions?

My latest project is my book, Peace for a Lifetime. It is important to me because of its message. I want the body of Christ to experience the healing and wholeness that is available to them through Christ, both spiritually and emotionally. I find inspiration through what is happening in my life as well as what is going on in my clients’ lives.

Peace for a Lifetime

What is the best thing you have written? Describe it. Tell me why you think it is the best. (so far)

Hopefully my book. I love writing my blogs, but felt God clearly directing me to write this book. My heart and my passion is to help people. To walk with them. To see them healed, freed, strengthened, and encouraged.

You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. (click to tweet)

Peace for a Lifetime

How and when do you spend time with God? Do you have a favourite devotional? What version of Bible do you use the most?

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, is my favorite, along with Jesus Calling. I use NIV the most, but also reference others as well. My quiet time is usually first thing in the morning when all is quiet and before my workday begins. After I read and pray, I usually like to spend several minutes in solitude, as my book details.

What is your favourite scripture or scriptures and why? What is your thinking about memorizing Scripture? Do you have any tips for our readers on ways to memorize that work the best for you?

Probably between Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 29:11. I love them because they speak of God’s love and intentions toward me. They comfort me and give me both strength and peace for my journey. I grew up memorizing Scripture for Sunday School, for VBS. By the time I was 12yrs old, I had memorized the books of the Bible both forward and backward. I studied music most of my life – I’m used to memorizing things. I repeat the verses. I write them down. I visualize them on the page. I focus on the meaning and sound of each word.

As a writer, time is important; quiet is important. How do you find that quiet time to reflect and write?

Finding time is the hardest part. Usually I set aside time in the mornings. That’s when I feel the calmest, the freshest, the most connected to what God is speaking to me.

Do you have hobbies, or sports that you are interested in? What is it about these activities that you like? Looking at your personality are these activities ones that God has brought to you?

I don’t really like sports, though I can enjoy thoroughly going to a game. It’s definitely not a passion. I love beauty. Wherever I can find beauty, whether through cooking, travelling, art, architecture, music, people, that’s what I get passionate about.

Peace for a Lifetime

What is one important lesson that Jesus is teaching or has taught you that has changed your worldview, your outlook, and/or your relationships?

How He is perfectly in control. I find the greatest peace in releasing my agenda, my need for perfection, my worry, and settling into the plans He has for me. That is enough. That is peace.

What is one deep desire that you would like God to fulfill for you? What Scripture could you find that could help you accomplish that goal?

To be a grandmother. I was never able to have children of my own, but I raised a stepson. Jeremiah 29:11.

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In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace.  Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lisa discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and with others, and she passionately shares her breakthrough in this timely, well-written, book.

Through Lisa and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long.  You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine.  You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow.  You can experience peace —for a lifetime!

Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com.  You can read more of Lisa’s articles at www.lisamurrayonline.com  You can also follow her on Facebook: Lisa Murray, or on Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray.

Today you have a chance to win a copy of Peace for a Lifetime. Runs for five days. Come back and enter again and again.

Please enter the Rafflecopter below. If you have any questions or problems, email me at Janis.

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DOWNLOAD MY FREE EBOOK – LIVING LIFE ONE WORD AT A TIME

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Kimberley Payne – The Inside Scoop

Kimberley Payne – The Inside Scoop

Today I have the privilege to interview one of my best friends, Kimberley Payne. Kimberley and I met on the grounds of the Bible Conference Centre in Guelph in 2004. I was attending my first Write! Canada Conference. Kimberley wanted people to join her fit breaks. I loved that idea. I joined and enjoyed learning to do quick exercises to help the stress of a conference. See how much fun we have!

KImberley Payne leading class with -Janis-Cox

Welcome Kimberley:

Kimberley Payne author

Tell me a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

I grew up in the Catholic Church, baptized as an infant, participated in the sacraments of communion and confession, and attended a Separate grade school and high school. I believed Jesus to be my Saviour. However, it wasn’t until the darkest time in my life in 2001 that I gave my heart to Jesus and decided to make Him my Lord as well. He is my best Friend, my Rock, my Salvation.

When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

I kept a journal when I was young; not a diary, but usually wrote about my travels and family vacations. As a teenager, I wrote poetry–very dark, exploring my lonely and suicidal thoughts. I also wrote fiction for my girlfriend—stories about our dating adventures.

However, I never thought that I was creative. I compared myself to my brother, who is an artist, and found myself wanting. Writing came naturally for me so it didn’t feel “special”.

As an introvert, I believe God gave me the gift of writing to help me process my thoughts and express myself on paper better than I ever could verbally. Writing was my companion.

What is the best thing you have written? Describe it. Tell me why you think it is the best. (so far)

That’s a tough one. I like my devotionals as they share what I’ve learned from and about God. He works through everything (including dreams, snowmobiling, and raising children) to teach me about His nature and character. Devotionals come naturally for me; I’m just sharing what I’ve learned and so they are closest to my “voice”.

Kimberley Payne Think Snow

I also like my children’s books. Trees of the Book shares a biblical story through the eyes of a tree. Each of the 7 trees “talked” to me so quickly that the book practically wrote itself. The tough part was all the research involved.

Kimberley Payne Trees of the Book

I really like my fitness books too. I’ve taken a difficult subject with lots of confusing and conflicting information out there and written easy-to-follow, inspirational, educational programs. I’ve received lots of positive feedback telling me that they are encouraging.

How and when do you spend time with God? Do you have a favourite devotional? What version of Bible do you use the most?

I like to spend time with God on my prayer walks.

Walking combined with #prayer author Kimberley Payne’s favourite. @FitForFaith (tweet this)

I also pray on my bike rides. God surrounds me in the beauty of nature and it feels right to praise and worship Him.

Kimberley Payne prayer walks

I don’t have a favourite devotional although I’ve read many. I usually receive at least one new devotional for Christmas every year.

I use the New International Version (NIV) Bible most often. I like to read The Message for a more contemporary look at scripture. Although I know a lot of people who love the original King James Version, I’m not a big fan of reading it.

What is your favourite scripture or scriptures and why? What is your thinking about memorizing Scripture? Do you have any tips for our readers on ways to memorize that work the best for you?

Philippians 4:6-7New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I think it’s very important to memorize Scripture but must confess that I haven’t been diligent in doing so.

A tip I could offer would be to write the verse on a cue card, and then draw something beside each line as a trigger to remember the line.

As a writer, time is important; quiet is important. How do you find that quiet time to reflect and write?

I’m at a stage in my life where I can find quiet in the evenings when my husband is busy “playing” in the garage, and my children (now young adults) are working, doing homework, or watching television.

I also have decided to fast my computer and my television on Sundays. I “unplug” from electronics and “plug” into God.

What new project/s are you working on? Why do they seem important to you? Are you compelled to write or do you need to find inspiration? How do you deal with interruptions?

I’m happy to say that my to-do list of books I felt an urgency to write has been completed. I have other ideas percolating but nothing is a “must” at this point.

I’m now more focussed on marketing and sharing the materials I’ve created with the world. I write as I’m inspired but they are usually shorter pieces.

What is one important lesson that Jesus is teaching or has taught you that has changed your worldview, your outlook, and/or your relationships?

Stewardship comes to mind. I am a steward of my children, my body, my finances etc. God has given me these to take care of but ultimately they are His.

Kimberley Payne’s goal in life is to be a good steward. (tweet this)

I want to hear God tell me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

What is one deep desire that you would like God to fulfill for you? What Scripture could you find that could help you accomplish that goal?

That my family love and serve the Lord. My daily prayer is for my husband, my children, my parents, my siblings, and my extended family to be saved.

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

If you would like to end with a personal prayer that would be great too.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the giftings You have given each and every person. I pray that we would use these talents to glorify and honour You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

Kimberley Payne

Kimberley Payne picture

Kimberley Payne is a motivational speaker and author who writes to encourage women in both fitness and faith. Her goal is to inspire women to glorify God with healthier lifestyles. Kimberley is happily married and lives with her husband in a village east of Toronto, Canada where she hikes and bikes. 

 

Kimberley Payne Website  

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What God says: Pearl Nisiah-Kumi

Today we welcome Pearl Nisaih-Kumi and learn how how she listens to God and can hear what God says. She is a member of the John316MarketingNetwork.

What God says: Pearl Nisiah-Kumi

Pearl Nsiah-Kumi

Tell me a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

Growing up, my family was what you’d call nominal Christians—we attended church because it was the right thing to do, I guess. However, when I got to high school, I went away to a boarding school, and that was where I heard the gospel for the first time. I accepted Christ for salvation, and have not looked back since.

I have attended a number of churches over the years, but for the past nine years, I’ve been a member at Grace Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland, where a close walk with God is preached and encouraged. We have about six hundred members. In addition to Sunday morning services, members are encouraged to join Sunday School classes and smaller cell groups for support, encouragement, and accountability.

When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

I’d say, maybe some forty years ago, I wrote two articles about things the Lord laid on my heart.

[Pearl was listening to what God says.]

I wrote them, but didn’t do anything with them, and didn’t think much about that being a calling to write. A bit over ten years ago, make a long story short, I started writing short articles for friends in a prayer group at work. Before I knew it, we were sharing these articles outside the group. One brother suggested I compile them into a book because they were helpful. I took his advice and my first book, Get On Board and Stay On Board, was published in 2012. I have since published three more:

The Last Train at Sunset,

Time Is Running Out,

Time is Running Out - What God says

 

 

 

 

 

Living For Jesus Until He Returns.

Living for Jesus Until He Returns - what God says

 

 

 

 

 

They all contain salvation messages and the Christian’s walk with the Lord. They are very simple to understand and helpful for both believers and unbelievers

What is the best thing you have written? Describe it. Tell me why you think it is the best. (so far)

The best thing I’ve written—I’ve used Scripture to challenge popular thinking, and concluded that only God’s way of doing things matters. For example, in chapter two of Time is Running Out, I argue that God says we are sinners, and that fact does not change even if we disagree with Him. According to the Bible, we are sinners because we are born with a sin nature.

The Bible is the final authority! (click to tweet)

It is counter-productive to argue with what it says. I raise similar arguments in all four books, and support them with Scripture.

What new project/s are you working on? Why do they seem important to you? Are you compelled to write or do you need to find inspiration? How do you deal with interruptions?

I am currently working on a little booklet/article on the subject of abortion. My target readers are single girls and women experiencing crisis in pregnancy; however, anybody who might be a part of this crisis (family, friends, and boyfriends) who doesn’t know the facts will benefit from reading it. This article/booklet is important because I believe our teenagers and college-age girls often don’t have enough information or education prior to engaging in pre-marital sex, or else they choose to ignore what they know. Also, one of the books–Time Is Running Out, is in the process of being translated into Spanish; it is my prayer and hope that it will work out well. The Spanish- speaking population needs to hear this message as much as the English-speaking population does.

I get the inspiration/burden first, and that compels me to write. I need both components to write. Interruptions can rob you of the thoughts you need to put down, and consequently lead to you forgetting them. I like to screen my interruptions and assess where they are coming from, and how urgent they are. I can then decide to respond or ignore them. I personally believe the enemy can use interruptions to distract us.

What is one deep desire that you would like God to fulfill for you? What Scripture could you find that could help you accomplish that goal?

One of my deep desires is to be able to market my books effectively.

The topic of salvation through Jesus (which is what I write about) is very important and urgent. People are dying every day: unfortunately, many without Christ.

I wish Christians would purchase these books for unbelieving family and friends. Time is short. Anything can happen in an individual’s life– early death, health changes–it’s better to be saved now than leave the future to chance.

Too many people are trusting in themselves and their good deeds to get into heaven, but that is not biblical. Paul reminded the church of Ephesus, “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8 NLT). The Scripture that keeps me hopeful in this situation is, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:13 NLT). Hence I’ve been asking and will continue to ask, because He who promised is faithful!

Prayer

Dear Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to me. I know You are preparing mansions for all Your children, and very soon You are coming back to receive us unto Yourself. But Lord, many are dying without You. Please open their eyes and understanding to enable them to choose life through Your Son Jesus. Please show us all the steps we can take, all the things we can do to make a difference in the lives of unbelievers. Help us to share Your word with passion, compassion, zeal, and with urgency. Thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Pearl Nsiah-Kumi

 

Pearl is a retired registered nurse, and a Christian author. She came to the United States from Ghana, West Africa. She has lived in Maryland for over forty years. Pearl has three children, a son in-law, and four grandchildren. She loves to write poetry and short articles based on Scripture, and has authored four books:

Get On Board and Stay On Board;
The Last Train at Sunset;
Time Is Running Out;
Living for Jesus Until He Returns.

These books contain salvation messages to reach the unbeliever, and messages about the Christian walk to encourage all Christians. The books are suitable for use as devotionals and also helpful in witnessing.

They are all available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and also on her Website:

Pearl may be reached by email at Pearl.

Thoughtful Thursdays – How God reached Marcia Laycock and changed her life

I am excited today to introduce you to my friend, Marcia Laycock. I know that you will find it fascinating how God has moved in her life. She is a prolific author, devotional writer and teacher. She is also warm, and caring. God has blessed her with an amazing way of expressing life through Him.

Welcome Marcia.

Thoughtful Thursdays – How God reached Marcia Laycock and changed her life

Marcia Laycock

1.  Tell me a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

I was raised in a Catholic home but never understood what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. I went through some nasty things as a child and decided God did not like me let alone love me, so I turned my back on Him by the time I left high school. I wandered in the wilderness for many years, ending up in a tiny town in the far north (Dawson City Yukon). You can read the full story on my website, but short version is, the Lord grabbed hold of my husband and me there, through the death of some close friends, and a “miracle baby,” in 1982.

Within a short time we found ourselves at Briercrest Bible College, then pastoring a small church in Ponoka Alberta. The Lord led us to the mission field in Papua New Guinea in 1996, then to plant a new church here in Blackfalds Alberta, in 2005.

Looking back over all those years it amazes me how He led and kept us and has blessed us in amazing ways as we’ve watched Him at work in our lives and the lives of many others. (tweet this)

2.  When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

I began writing when I was very young, mostly I think as a way of escape in a rather stressful home. God gave me some wonderful teachers who encouraged me to continue writing but it wasn’t until I finally yielded my life to Him that a burning desire was kindled in me to see my words published. I’m sure it was by His orchestration that I ended up in a province that had a thriving Christian writers’ organization (now called InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship). I joined that group in the early 90s, and was privileged to be on the executive for many years. It is my joy now to be able to teach and help others in their journey as they write for Him.

3. What is the best thing you have written? Describe it. Tell me why you think it is the best. (so far).

That’s a hard question to answer. It brings to mind some devotionals that have had amazing responses from readers, my first novel, One Smooth Stone, which, through the Lord’s power, has changed lives, and even one or two of my poems. But If I had to choose I think I’d pick my current work in progress, a play called A Pattern in Blue, which is the story of my dad’s experience during World War 2. I was tremendously blessed to be able to work with the professional actors and a wonderful director at Rosebud School of the Arts and see that play read on stage last May, as part of the Budding Playwrights Festival. I am continuing to work with Lucia Frangione to expand and finish it and hope to see a full production of it some day. I think it is an important story that needs to be told.

4. What is your favourite scripture or scriptures and why? What is your thinking about memorizing Scripture? Do you have any tips for our readers on ways to memorize that work the best for you?

I used to be stressed about trying to memorize scripture because I find it very difficult, especially since going through chemotherapy a couple years ago.

But I have been amazed how God’s word simply floats into my mind – sometimes quite long passages – when I need it.

There are a few scriptures that I would say are favourites – Hebrews 10:24, Psalm 103, Isaiah 43:1-7, and the whole book of Job, which, if I had to choose, would be my favourite. I had to read it all in one sitting, write a ten page paper and then an exam, all in the space of a week, while at Bible college, and it had a profound impact on me.

I try to read it in one sitting once a year and it never fails to “knock my socks off!” 🙂

7. What new project/s are you working on? Why do they seem important to you? Are you compelled to write or do you need to find inspiration? How do you deal with interruptions?

As I mentioned in # 3, I’m finishing A Pattern in Blue and also working on another play, as yet unnamed, for the Advanced Playwriting Course I’m taking with Lucia. This play is about a group of people who have come together for support. I believe it’s important because it’s all about putting our theology to work.

The picture below should make you wonder what the play is about. I have lots of questions. Do you?

Reading of play by Marcia Laycock

I am also in the process of setting up my own publishing company, Small Pond Press and have released two titles so far – Abundant Rain Devotional for writers of faith and A Traveler’s Advisory, stories of God’s grace along the way. They are both available now on Amazon.

As I mentioned above, as a pastor’s wife interruptions are constant. I’ve learned not to get stressed over it, to go with the flow and trust that God is working out my schedule so that all things important get done.

Marcia Laycock

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has three devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies, including the Hot Apple Cider books. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

How to Find Her

Website – www.marcialeelaycock.com
Blogs – http://marcialeelaycock.com/thespur
 http://www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/marcialeelaycock
Twitter – @MarciaLaycock – profile – https://twitter.com/MarciaLaycock
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/marcialaycock/
Amazon author page –  http://www.amazon.com/Marcia-Lee-Laycock/e/B007ATSV1E
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MarciaLeeLaycock
The Spur sign-up – http://eepurl.com/BOkO1

Books

One Smooth Stone – http://amzn.to/1vyyBHO

One-Smooth-Stone-Marcia-Laycock
A Tumbled Stone – http://amzn.to/XXnIA9

SMALL COVER - ATS
Spur of the Moment – http://amzn.to/VgcjcM
Abundant Rain – http://amzn.to/1r5zsgZ
Abundant Rain Journal – amazon.com – http://amzn.to/1Jakd91
The Ambassadors book one – Amazon.com – http://amzn.to/1rEz618
Clinging to the Rock – http://amzn.to/1yilevh
An Unexpected Glory – Christmas ebook – http://amzn.to/1l0Wzrz
Earthly Treasure – http://amzn.to/1GkIzhR
Missing Christmas – http://amzn.to/1sQaZOd
Uplifting Devotionals Book 3 – Amazon.com-  http://amzn.to/1DEo0hA
Celebrate This Day – amazon.com http://amzn.to/1vE5Ius
A Traveler’s Advisory – am.com – http://amzn.to/1X4VkDB

Thoughtful Thursdays – How to Live Victoriously for Christ

Today we welcome Sheldon Newton. I found it very interesting how Christ pursued Sheldon until He knew without a doubt that Jesus is Lord. Please read how God has used Sheldon to further His Kingdom.

Thoughtful Thursdays – How to Live Victoriously for Christ

Sheldon D. Newton

1.  Tell me a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

I grew up in a single parent home with my mother, two sisters and one big brother and my mom made sure that we attended church whenever the church doors opened. As my mom describes it, she had left my father (her husband) because of abuse. The last straw was when he came in the room drunk and I was a baby crying in my crib. She said that he took me up and threw me against the wall. He did not like me because I was darker than my brother. (By the way, he was dark too.) This was when she made the firm choice to leave him.

As a young child I always felt so alone and misunderstood. So I stayed to myself a lot. We attended an Anglican church until my grandmother passed away, and then my mom moved us to a Baptist church not far from where we lived. It was while at the Baptist church that I came to understand the Good News, that God so loved me that He gave His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ so that I would not perish and go to hell, but have everlasting life.

My oldest sister became friends with an out-standing Christian young lady who attended the church who truly loved Jesus. Her face literally glowed with His Presence and peace and I wanted that.

I came under great conviction but was afraid to walk to the altar when the call was given.

I remember that a week of revival services were held at the church and the conviction became greater. A dear old saint approached me and asked me if I was saved. I told her, “No,” and she encouraged me to go to the altar. I went at her coaching and was prayed for. At that time they did not lead us in a prayer to receive Christ. They simply prayed over us. But when I got home that evening I went on my knees and gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a decision I have never regretted and that has been over thirty years ago.

I was thirteen years old at the time.

2.  When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

Looking back I can clearly remember that I first began writing right after I gave my heart to Jesus. I found an old Bible which my brother used to use.

The Bible had no covers, but I treasured it for it contained God’s Word.

I had a very strong hunger to know God and to know His Word so I would read several chapters every day. As I read things would stand out to me and I would write notes in the corners of the Bible. As time went on I got a note pad and would literally write for hours as I studied the Scriptures.

The more I wrote the more would come to me and I really enjoy it.

I can see now that God was training and preparing me for being a Christian author. This is when it began. From writing on note pads and papers I went to writing on a computer and now a laptop. I wrote my first book on an old computer.

3.  What is the best thing you have written? Describe it. Tell me why you think it is the best. (so far)

I personally believe that my best book chronicles what I learned about living for Christ so far and how to do so practically on a daily basis in victory. Believe me when I say it was and still is a learning process. The book I am referring to would be my fourth book, “How To Live The Christian Life Successfully…..Victoriously.” (Formerly True Spirituality & Be Ye Transformed)

I had been preaching and teaching God’s Word for about twenty years and a friend of our family asked me about writing a book that would share with people how to grow in their walk with Christ, I mean, how to live this life. She knew that I had been living for the Lord from my teens.

Many who had started to live for God had turned back to their old life.

She wanted me to share what I had learned so that it would serve as an encouragement to others and to do so in an instructional format where they could apply principles of the faith. Many people through the years wanted me to share with them on vital issues such as how to renew their minds, how to bring their body under subjection (this was a BIG ISSUE, and it still is), how to forgive, how to walk in love, how to know God intimately, how to know His Voice, how to better understand the Bible and how to meditate in the Scriptures, among other things.

I wrote this particular book in response to help people comprehend in a simple manner how to live for Christ victoriously.

Because I have actually had to walk the road myself and live these truths this book carries a very special place in my heart. It takes a person by the hand and leads him or her step by step into a closer and deeper walk with Christ. And people’s lives are being blessed and helped through it. Thank God.

4.  How and when do you spend time with God? Do you have a favourite devotional? What version of Bible do you use the most?

I spend my time with God in His Word and in prayer in the mornings before I do anything else. I notice in the Bible that people who pursued God like King David sought God in the morning. I have noticed through these many years that if I put God first and begin my day with Him the rest of my day goes better. There have been times when I did other things and people first but my day did not go as planned and I found myself getting so busy and distracted that I neglected my time with Him and that was not a good feeling at all.

So I aim to be with Him in His Word and prayer in the mornings before I get to the other things I have to do.

To me it is still amazing to note that I get much more accomplished after my morning devotions. I mostly use the King James Version of the Bible. I just love the Old English. But I also use The Amplified Bible and some other translations when I desire to get more clarity of a particular passage of Scripture.

Feeding on His Word is a real delight to my soul.

I love reading His Word most of all. But I also read other books as well, most of them of the Christian genre, but some motivational and instructional books as well. I do not have a favorite devotional but I have books which I treasure such as: God’s Generals with Roberts Liardon and Ever-increasing Faith with Smith Wigglesworth.

5.  What is your favorite scripture or scriptures and why? What is your thinking about memorizing Scripture? Do you have any tips for our readers on ways to memorize that work the best for you?

I treasure God’s Word and have several which I may say I love feasting upon in particular.

One of them is Isaiah 41:10 which says, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.” I LOVE THAT. I mark it in every new Bible I get.

I also love Jeremiah 15:16 which says, “Thy words were found and I did eat them and thy word was unto me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart.”

I find meditation in His Word fun and sweet. The word, meditate means to mutter, ponder, muse and think upon. Early in my walk with God I learned to focus when I feed and study the Word. I aim not to get distracted and by meditating in the Scriptures daily the Word became a part of me.

I honestly have little to no problem remembering Scriptures.

Actually, from the time I gave my life to Jesus I could read a Scripture once and remember it. This is particularly true when I am teaching the Bible. Scriptures would come to me without any effort to remember them.

I believe in memorizing the Bible but without even doing so the Spirit of God brings them back to me continually.

It has been that way with me for over thirty years now. My encouragement to anyone who wants to remember Scripture more is to make time to read and ponder it on a daily basis. When the Word gets rooted deeply in your heart you will find His Word being a lamp to your feet and a light to your path showing you what to do, what to say and how to live. A major key is to feed upon the Word DAILY. That is vital.

Tweetable:

I believe in memorizing the Bible but without even doing so the Spirit of God brings them back to me continually. (tweet this)

Sheldon Newton

sheldon D Newton

Bishop Sheldon D. Newton is a pastor, international speaker, lecturer and teacher who has been sharing God’s Word  for over thirty years.

He is on a mission to share the foundational and practical keys to successful and victorious living for Christ, through the application of Biblical Truths which transforms lives.

He is a noted author, and the senior pastor of Jesus Christ Centered Ministries, located in Nassau, Bahamas. His teachings on Kingdom living and the power of prayer will ignite you and enable you to live effectively and produce results in your personal, family and professional life.

Sheldon is the best-selling author of many books, including the 30 day life-changing devotional, My Name is Jealous; How To Pray & Get Results; How To Live The Christian Life Successfully….Victoriously; Diligence, The Master Key To Achieving Your Dreams; Refuse To Live The Common Life & Humility & the Honor Of God (which is hailed as a Christian Classic).

Sheldon lives in Nassau with his wife and two children.

His Links:

Facebook: Sheldon Newton

Twitter: Sheldon Newton

His books:

How To Live The Christian Life Successfully..Victoriously: 

Diligence The Master Key To Achieving Your Dreams:

How To Pray And Get Results: 

Winning the Battle For Your Mind: 

Thoughtful Thursdays – How Can God Give us the Desires of our Heart?

Today we welcome Bonnie Jean Schaefer. What a delightful story of God’s grace, and His delight in helping us achieve our dreams.

Thoughtful Thursdays – How Can God Give us the Desires of our Heart?

The Dragon Collector - Bonnie Schaefer

Tell me a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

I grew up in a Christian home and came to know Jesus at the age of four. As I listened to my mother read the Bible to me and my three older sisters before bed that night, I realized something important: I was a sinner.

I may have only been four years old, but I knew right from wrong. I knew it was a lot easier to choose to do the wrong thing than to do the right thing. I knew when I did something wrong, I got in trouble. I knew my natural tendency was to tell lies to cover my mistakes. I knew my natural tendency was to be impolite to those in authority over me. I knew my natural tendency was to be selfish rather than look out for others.

So when I heard that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23),” I knew that verse was talking about me. I had sinned. That meant I had fallen short of God’s glory.

When I heard that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23),” I knew I was deserving of death but wanted God’s gift of eternal life.

When I heard that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6),” I understood that believing in Jesus was the only way to experience that eternal life and see the kingdom of God.

When my mother finished reading the Bible that night, I asked her what I needed to do to be saved.

She sent my sisters to bed and sat down with me with her Bible open. She made sure I understood I was a sinner in need of God’s forgiving grace. She made sure I understood that salvation comes by grace through faith, not by anything I do.

I told her I understood and wanted to ask God to save me. We thus knelt side by side along the couch, and she prayed with me as I asked God to forgive me and save me.

Then something wonderful happened: God saved me! The instant I asked for salvation, I felt His presence wash over me. I felt different. Renewed. Alive. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now I realize that presence I felt was the Holy Spirit.

He came to reside in my soul at that moment, and He has never and will never leave.

I was still a sinner, but now I was a sinner saved by grace. My sin nature still lived in me, but now so did God in the person of the Holy Spirit. Now I was equipped to fight my sin nature, and the battle between my fleshly desires and my Godly desires is a battle that will rage within me until the day I die.

As I fight that battle, I have learned to structure my life in such a way that allows me to stand strong in Christ.

I do that by making seeking Him, serving Him and sharing Him my number one priority in life.

I find great comfort, joy and delight in living for God and obeying His commandments. I am far from perfect and still get derailed from time to time. I have made more mistakes in my life than I care to admit and have disappointed my God in ways that break my heart to recall.

But I serve a gracious, forgiving, loving God. He made me. He saved me. And he gave me gifts to use, dreams to pursue and people to love along the way.

That’s what makes life fun. Seeking God. Serving God. Sharing God. And loving others.

When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

Back in high school, my friends, sisters and cousins had definite ideas about what they wanted to do with their lives; I was clueless. My secret dream was to be a writer who ran her own business, but that wasn’t practical or logical. No one had ever told me I should be a writer. I knew no writers. And the women in my family pursued normal careers like teaching and nursing.

I didn’t want normal.

That’s why I chose to major in Bible in college. Rather than use those years to prepare for a practical career I didn’t really want, I figured I would prepare for life by establishing a solid foundation of faith through studying the Bible.

Yet months from graduation, I faced a black hole of uncertainty about my future.

What kind of job was I going to find with a degree in Bible?

School had been my safety net. As long as I had classes to attend, I didn’t have to face my future or the fact that I had no practical skills to use to find a reliable but boring job.

Once I graduated, though, I would have to endure reality and that sick feeling that I couldn’t be who I wanted to be: a writer. At least that’s what I thought until I attended one of my Bible classes in February. That day, my professor discussed the difference between Dreamers and Doers:

Dreamers dream about what could be done.
Doers make things happen.

I wanted to be a Doer. I wanted to believe in the power of my dreams, in the possibility of turning them into memories. But I couldn’t. I was just a Dreamer doomed to imagine great things but keep them locked inside. Because the key to release them didn’t exist.

Although I started to tune my professor out at the depressing realization that I was a handicapped Dreamer, my professor wasn’t done. She recaptured my attention by quoting Psalm 37:3: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

God wanted to give me the desires of my heart? Was that true?

How could that be? I had taught myself to be practical and logical and rational about life. I had taught myself to believe I needed to ignore my passions in order to please God. Now I learned that God wanted to give me the desires of my heart? How could this be true?

As soon as class ended, I went home and read the first six verses of Psalm 37 over and over and over again. They were real. These words were actually in the inspired word of God.

My gracious God wanted to give me the desires of my heart.

Which made perfect, logical sense. If I was seeking Him, then I would want what He wants. My desires matched His when I was committed to following Him.

My greatest desire was to be a writer. I realized I could, with God’s help, make that happen. I could do what I dreamed.

I could be a DREAM DOER.

Following graduation in June 1999, I started my first novel. And because I was working toward becoming a writer, I had no intention of settling into a real career.

So while writing and rewriting that book, I worked a series of jobs to survive: carpenter, customer service representative, sales associate,  substitute teacher, softball coach, camp clinician, fitness center coordinator, volleyball coach, babysitter, secretary, waitress, freelance writer and teacher.

I also made some dumb mistakes with credit as I “invested” in books, courses and seminars to learn more about writing and business. I learned a lot, but I didn’t do much with my knowledge. Yet I held back. Hesitated. Refused to go all in and give my all in pursuit of my dreams. Life as an employee made more sense, even if I was hopping from one job to another.

I finally took a leap of faith in May 2008 when I published The Dream Doers and the Summer of Secrets on Amazon via my own publishing company, Dream Doers Publishing.

My book was an immediate flop.

I didn’t believe in myself, my book or God enough to market it. I didn’t feel qualified to be an author or publisher even though it was the calling from God that weighed heavily on my heart.

I felt more like an imposter. No one had hired me to write. This wasn’t my job. I was teaching at the time. That’s how I ought to earn my paycheck. Not by writing.

I could have trusted God and channeled my knowledge and passion into marketing that book. Instead, I stopped writing and came close to letting my dream die. Chasing my dreams had gotten me nowhere and left me deep in debt. How depressing!

Teaching also depressed me, so I quit that job and spent the next year or so picking up odd jobs wherever I could to stay afloat.

Staying afloat soon became problematic. By September 2009, I was on the brink of financial disaster and feeling lost and aimless and worthless.

That’s when I landed a job at Starbucks.

I intended to work there for six months while stabilizing my finances and getting back on track with my writing. After six months, I would magically find a way to make a living as a writer and would be able to quit making coffee.

Things didn’t exactly go as planned.

I wasn’t earning a huge paycheck even after I was promoted to shift supervisor in January 2010, so stabilizing my finances took much longer than six months.

As a matter of fact, things got worse before they got better.

Relentless calls from angry creditors made my life a living nightmare. I had dug too big of a hole for myself and simply couldn’t catch up on two of my accounts. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom in the summer of 2011 that I was finally able to get control of my financial situation.

Once I bottomed out, my situation began improving. For the first time in my life, I was earning enough on a consistent basis to remain current with all my bills and not utilize credit for anything. I was still on the verge of broke, but my money woes no longer dominated my thoughts. Since I was free to think about things other than financial stress, I started writing again.

In January 2012, I began writing short stories. One of those stories prompted an idea for a novel. It was a fantasy novel featuring dragons, which was a far cry from the sports novel I published in 2008. I found I enjoyed writing in a different genre and published The Dragon Collector via Kindle in June 2014.

Even though I prayed for God’s blessings, I expected my book to live in oblivion the way my first book did, especially since my marketing plan only involved a few posts to Facebook.

Within a month, however, The Dragon Collector was the #1 bestselling book in its category and remained in the top ten for three straight months.

People I didn’t know were buying it and reviewing it and sending me emails about how much they loved it. Better yet, I was earning money as an author. I was living my dream!

I can’t explain the success of my book in any other way than to give God credit for every single sale. He was showing me that I was on the right track. That this is the work He wants me to do. That when I follow Him, I’ll be rewarded.

How and when do you spend time with God? Do you have a favourite devotional? What version of Bible do you use the most? 

I meet with God every morning after breakfast. I have a hymnal at home, so I start by picking a few songs at random and singing to God. Then I’ll pray and open His word (I use the NKJV) to the passage I am studying that day.

I generally pick a book of the Bible to study, and right now I’m in Hebrews. I like to go deep when I study, so first I’ll meditate on the Scripture and talk to God about my thoughts regarding His word. Then I’ll read through three different commentaries, taking detailed notes in the process. Afterwards, I’ll spend time journaling my reactions and analyze ways to apply the lessons I’ve learned that day to my life. Once I finish journaling, I’ll wrap up my devotional time by praying.

I may only get through a few verses a day, but that hour or so of focused time with God is the best part of my day.

What new project/s are you working on? Why do they seem important to you? Are you compelled to write or do you need to find inspiration? How do you deal with interruptions?

I’m working on a novel, The Dragon Hunter. It’s a sequel to The Dragon Collector, and I’m almost finished writing it. I originally wanted to have it done by this past January, so it has taken me much longer to complete than I anticipated.

When I wrote The Dragon Collector, no one expected anything from me. I had no fans (other than family), and I wasn’t sure if I was any good at this writing thing or not.

Now I have fans. People I don’t know are expecting another good story from me, and feeling that pressure paralyzed me. What if the sequel wasn’t as good as the original? Or could it be better? Could I improve?

I wanted to get it done but struggled with developing a writing routine. I would go for weeks or months at a time without working on it, but avoiding my work ate at my conscience. When I finally decided to get serious about being the author I’ve always dreamed of being, I created a schedule and determined to stick to it whether I felt like writing or not.

Now I’m hooked on the writing process and enjoy being disciplined enough to sit and write at the time I have scheduled to sit and write.

I work at Starbucks in the afternoon and evenings, so that gives me my mornings to write. I set aside two-three hours a day to work on my book: right after my devotions and before my workout.

As a single woman, I don’t have a husband or kids demanding my attention, but I still have plenty of distractions in my life that can easily derail me.

It took me a while to develop the discipline I needed to develop a writing routine.

I found that recording my time and words written during that time helped me focus my effort and stoked my competitive nature. I like seeing consistency and improvement in my performance, and tracking my results each day shows me what I am doing well and what needs improvement.

Do you have hobbies, or sports that you are interested in? What is it about these activities that you like? Looking at your personality are these activities ones that God has brought to you?

I’ve always been an athlete. I thrive on competition and grew up playing softball, then added both volleyball and basketball once I started high school. In college, however, I dropped back to just playing softball.

Needing some sort of competitive outlet after college, I began running races. Once I ran my first marathon, I was hooked on the sport. I love challenging myself to run faster or farther and have completed numerous 5k’s, 10k’s, half-marathons, marathons and even ultra-marathons.

The best part of running is the opportunity it gives me to think, pray and develop story ideas.

And I love running so much that I even wrote a book about it. It’s entitled Why 26.2? and chronicles my journey from non-runner to four-hour marathoner.

Tweetable:

Find out how Bonnie Schaefer found the desire of her heart. (click to tweet)

Bonnie Jean Schaefer

Bonnie Jean Schaefer

Bonnie  grew up in a loving Christian home with two amazing parents, three older sisters and a younger brother. She’s been an athlete from the moment she first learned to throw a ball and enjoyed playing softball, basketball and volleyball in high school as well as softball in college.

After college, she found a way to channel her love for competition and sports into running and has completed a plethora of races ranging in distance from 3.1 miles to 26.2 and beyond. Now her passion for sports is outmatched only by her love for Christ and enthusiasm for writing.

She writes fantasy fiction in the mornings and works as a Shift Supervisor at Starbucks in the evenings. She writes under the pen name of D.K. Drake and is currently working on book two of The Dragon Stalker Bloodlines Saga.

When she’s not running races or writing about dragons, she loves hiking, staying active and just being outside.  She hopes to someday experience grand adventures like an African safari, backpacking in Australia and sailing on the Nile.

But life’s little adventures are fun, too.  Like eating at a new restaurant.  Playing a new sport.  Meeting new people.  Visiting a place she’s never been before.  Adventures are all around her every day; discovering them is what makes life fun.

She has a beautiful black dog named Jetta and lives with two of her sisters in the great state of North Carolina.

Blog: DragonStalkerBloodlines.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dragonstalkerbooks/

Links to Books on Amazon:

The Dragon Collector

Why 26.2?

Why 26.1 - Bonnie Jean Schaefer

Thoughtful Thursdays – Why MaryAnn Diorio is compelled to write and other interesting facts


Today we have the pleasure to meet MaryAnn Diorio. MaryAnn is a member of the John316 Marketing Network of writers of which I belong. You will find her passion for writing has certainly been inspired by God.

Thoughtful Thursdays – Why MaryAnn Diorio is compelled to write and other interesting facts

Surrender to Love - MaryAnn Diorio

1. When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

When I was 30 years old, God called me to a writing ministry.  I had never considered writing, other than a fleeting thought while still in high school that it might be interesting to become a journalist. But that thought did not last long.

Shortly before my 30th birthday, I began to have a desire to write. I thought this was strange since my professional training was in foreign languages.  But the desire to write kept increasing to the point where it was almost becoming an obsession.

Since I was not sure if the desire was from God or not, I asked the Lord to increase it if it was, indeed, from Him, or to take it away if it was not from Him.

The desire only increased, and God confirmed in a marvellous way that the desire was from Him.

I had written a poem that I submitted to The Saturday Evening Post. Novice that I was, I had no clue that The Saturday Evening Post was virtually impossible for a newbie like me to crack. But, by God’s grace, my poem was accepted.  When I subsequently learned how difficult it is to get published in The Saturday Evening Post, I knew that God had allowed this acceptance to confirm His call on my life to write for Him.

 2.  As a writer, time is important; quiet is important. How do you find that quiet time to reflect and write?

I make the time to write.

Finding time is an illusion; we have to make time.

We have to make an appointment with ourselves just as we make appointments with other professionals or with friends, and we have to schedule that writing appointment in our calendars.  If we do not take our writing seriously, no one else will. I am blessed to have my own writing studio where I can close the door and write. Also, my children are now grown, so I do not have the same responsibilities and time commitments I did when they were small.

3.  What new project/s are you working on? Why do they seem important to you? Are you compelled to write or do you need to find inspiration? How do you deal with interruptions?

I am currently working on a trilogy of novels titled The Italian Chronicles.  The first book is called The Madonna of Pisano; the second is called A Sicilian Farewell; and the third is called Return to Bella Terra.  The idea for the trilogy was sparked when I discovered some interesting information while researching my ancestry.  This project is important to me because it will reveal a very important truth about forgiveness and, I hope, set some of my readers free (Remember John 8:32).

As for being compelled to write, I find that I must write almost as much as I must breathe.

Since God has called me to write, I must write in obedience to His call. The inspiration is always there in the sense that I never have to be motivated to write. I wake up every day eager to get to my writing desk.  Sometimes I wonder what I should write next because I have more than enough ideas to last several lifetimes. But when that happens, I ask Holy Spirit what He wants me to write next.

Regarding interruptions, frankly, I have difficulty with them. This is an area where the Lord is teaching me to release His patience and to discern between a true, divinely appointed interruption and a distraction from the enemy.  I have created a sign I place on the outside doorknob of my writing studio that alerts my family to the fact that I am in creative mode and would appreciate not being disturbed unless it is an emergency.  My family is very supportive of my writing and totally understands that I need uninterrupted time to create. I am greatly blessed in this way.

4.  Do you have hobbies, or sports that you are interested in? What is it about these activities that you like? Looking at your personality are these activities ones that God has brought to you?

I love to paint in oils, acrylics, pastels, and colored pencil.  Art has always been a love of mine.  What I love about art is the creative process.  In writing, I paint pictures with words. In art, I paint pictures with various media.  Art goes hand-in-hand with my creative personality that also loves to write.

5.  What is one important lesson that Jesus is teaching or has taught you that has changed your worldview, your outlook, and/or your relationships?

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I cannot live the Christian life in my own strength but that I must allow Christ to live it through me (Galatians 2:20).  This is what it means to “crucify the flesh” and to “carry one’s cross.”  The cross we carry is our flesh–the tendencies of the old man that still rise up to harass us. But the Good News is that in Christ we can overcome the flesh every single time it rears its ugly head if we allow Christ to love through us, to be patient through us, to be kind through us–and on and on.  When I recognize and admit my weakness and inability to live the Christian life, then Christ is strong in me.

It is a matter of yielding to His Presence in me.

Prayer:

Papa God, I come to You in the mighty and matchless Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I praise You for Who You are–the God of Love and Mercy and Grace.  Thank You, Abba, for sending Jesus to die so that we might live. Thank You for Your Word that sustains us moment by moment.  Thank You for allowing us the privilege to work with you in enforcing Your Kingdom in the earth.  I pray, Papa, for those who have read this interview. I speak joy and peace into their lives.  I pray especially for Janis and for her generous heart in publishing this interview.  For both writers and readers alike, I pray that You would bless the work of their heart and of their hands, for Your glory and for the building of Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name I pray and receive. Amen and Amen.

MaryAnn Diorio

 

MaryAnn Diorio

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author who writes compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. She holds the PhD degree in French with a concentration in Comparative Literature from the University of Kansas and the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton HIll University.  MaryAnn resides in New Jersey with her wonderful husband of 46 years. They are the blessed parents of two amazing daughters, a fantastic son-in-law and five rambunctious grandchildren. When she is not writing, MaryAnn loves to paint, to read, and to make up silly songs for her grandchildren.

BOOKS

A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING
SURRENDER TO LOVE
CANDLE LOVE
TOBY TOO SMALL
WHO IS JESUS?
DO ANGELS RIDE PONIES:

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

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