Friday, December 12, 2014

Shea Lowery: Lives Being Restored

Everyone's Story is honored and thrilled to host Shea Lowery this week, a woman fueled with a mission to spread God's awesomeness. Shea is the Executive Director of Lives Being Restored. The ministry's goal is to "share with children, teenagers, and adults the love of Jesus Christ, His powerful gospel story, and His desire to restore wounded and broken lives," traveling to schools, drug and alcohol rehab centers, homeless shelters and churches. This is why when Shea contacted me to query about appearing on this blog I did not hesitate. Please extend a warm welcome and encouragement to Shea. Both Shea and I look forward to hearing from you.


What I Need To Share With Others by Shea Lowery

For many years I had a heart for reaching people for Christ. But not until a few years ago did I experience a true heart change. After many years of going back and forth in my walk with Christ, I rededicated my life to Him and He began an amazing work. He stepped on the scene of my life and began to strip things from me that needed to go. Light has three functions, one of which is to reveal what is there. God turned on His light switch in my heart and revealed its true condition. He then began His work.

The molding and shaping process was difficult yet so rewarding. For the next several years, God would work in my life in amazing ways. He would teach me the importance of forgiveness, the value of waiting rooms, the importance of prayer and many other wonderful lessons. But there were a few gray areas I lived in, gray areas I deemed small and insignificant. It would be months later that I would learn just how dangerous those gray areas really were.

Because true surrender under God’s authority had never taken place, I would soon find myself wandering from my Father once again. I quickly found myself on a road, heading toward an exit I did not need to take.

God was warning me to get off this particular road but I rationalized that it would be okay. In fact, I told God, "I have got this,” and continued down the same path. Yet God’s persistence of showing red flags and convicting my heart continued even as I ignored the Spirit’s heeding.

It is of great importance to note that when God sees danger in our lives, He will caution us in many different ways. He reached out in every way possible to stop me from the hurt that was down the road but I thought I knew best. Just like the prodigal son who decided to take a journey apart from his father’s leading, I too took a journey that brought much hurt and pain to so many people.

I took the exit that God had been warning me was coming. And from that decision came one of the biggest times of brokenness ever in my life. I remember falling into my bed one night saying, “Lord, You won’t forgive me this time.” Yet too my amazement, He poured so much love into my heart and held me close through a very broken time in my life. I had broken His heart with my sin, but His love for me never changed.

As time went by, great consequences came because of my sin. I lost the respect of others as well as a ministry I loved. The discipline of being broken and the resulting sadness was almost more than I thought I could bear. I remember thinking, “I may not make it through.” But God's hands picked me up from out of a pit and showed me His love, mercy, and grace. From a time of repentance and brokenness came His forgiveness and restoration.

The time came when God called me to share my story. He took me by the hand and led me through open doors to share His story for His glory. As I shared my testimony with others, I began to see God’s hand at work in other people’s lives.

I have moved forward with the Lord as He has continued to bring restoration to my life. If I am going to experience all that God has for me, then I must continue to move forward with Him. Paul said it best in Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”

So many people today are hurting in this world. They need to hear, “There is hope.” And when we share our stories of God’s redemption and restoration, people will find hope. I am so thankful for what Jesus has done, and continues to do, in my life. I want to share with this world the love and restoration story of Jesus Christ.

My theme verse is Acts 20:24. It states, “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” And this is what life is all about — sharing with others the Gospel message.

I believe there are many who feel God doesn't love them because of their past. They are living every day in defeat and in sadness. I want to share with them God's love for them and His desire to restore their lives. He is in the business of “Lives Being Restored.” I know this first hand because I am a person He redeemed, rescued and restored. I know my God today in a way I have never known before and I will never be the same again.

Shea's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Everyone has a story: Meet Shea Lowery @shea_lowery founder of Lives Being Restored (Tweet This)

Shea Lowery: How does God act when He sees danger in our lives? (Tweet This)

Shea Lowery @shea_lowery shares how God wants to restore your life. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Shea Lowery is a passionate speaker, writer, and daughter of Christ. The main theme of her story is a life restored. Shea has personally walked this journey and has a strong desire to share with others the hope and restoration that Christ longs to bestow upon all of His beloved children.

She places no limitations on God and allows Him to freely lead her to the places that He chooses to send her to share. You can find Shea at various speaking engagements not limited to conference centers, homeless shelters, churches, rehabilitation centers and football fields. Her simple, deep desire is to reach ladies and youth with the love of Christ, no matter their walk of life, and she’s willing to go and do whatever it takes in order to reach them.

Shea loves being a mother to her two children and a nana to her two grand boys. She loves being surrounded by her family and cherishes the many special times they spend together.

Shea earned a Christian ministry degree from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Miss. and is currently working on a master's degree in Biblical counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She also is writing her first women's Bible study on restoration and will be teaching it at her church in Texas in the fall of 2015.

Connect with Shea at:





Friday, December 5, 2014

Connie Almony: Bringing God's Truths To Students In Fiction

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes back author Connie Almony.  Through the past handful of years I've gotten to know Connie so well that I wish we lived around the corner from each other…and when you chat with her online or read her novels I believe you're going to feel the same way! Personable, heartfelt, funny, and strong--that's what Connie is all about. And, having roomed with her on a college campus at a writer's conference I will be a personal witness that yes, she really does feel at home in such an environment. Please extend a warm greeting to Connie and try for her special BookGiveaway of her new release, ONE AMONG MEN.


BookGiveaway:
Connie is offering 1 version of her novel ONE AMONG MEN to 1 randomly drawn commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, December 12th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment



Blurb for ONE AMONG MEN:

Her job requires she live with 500, hard-partying, college guys. She can handle the 499, but it only takes one to lead her into danger.

Samantha Hart is looking for purpose, like her missionary best friend, but is forced to take a job as a resident director of the all-male party dorm at the major state university where her prodigal past haunts her. She must avert the pitfalls of a woman in her position as well as the dangerous forces that threaten her life.

Chris Johnson, a rock guitarist, has come back to school as a music major, and finds himself in a business relationship with the ruthless supplier of an on-campus drug ring. He’s intrigued by the lady RD, while learning more about his musical gift and the God who gave it to him. Can he manage his two worlds without risking Samantha’s life?

Though this novel is set at the completely fictional Maryland State University, ten percent of current author income will go to Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) at University of Maryland College Park.

A FEW QUESTIONS FOR CONNIE:
I know that your new release, ONE AMONG MEN, is truly a story of the heart. Do you have any anecdotal stories of seeing this story come alive in its journey to publication?

One Among Men is a story of a woman whose job requires she live in a hard-partying, all-male college dorm. Though it is not MY story, it was inspired by my time as a resident director of three all-male dorms, one in which I lived. God gave me this time—between having been taught relative right and wrong from my studies, and being a counselor in a biblically-centered counseling office—so I could see how living a value-less life can lead to a chaotic lack of direction. I saw students testing boundaries of thought promoted in the classroom, and falling prey to behavior that would impact them negatively for the rest of their lives. It was the emptiness of that world that led me to crave the teachings of the Bible in the years following. And yet, there is a lot about the college atmosphere that I LOVE.

ONE AMONG MEN is Book 1 of The Maryland State University Series. What is it about a university setting that captures your writer’s interest?

I LOVE the university setting. I’ve always gotten a sort of “high” from the atmosphere of “higher learning,” and seeing physical manifestations of information (sometimes called books) stacked up in one place. “The Stacks” was one of my favorite rooms in the university library. There was just so much information there that the shelves needed rollers so you could move them apart from each other to access the journals. Of course, we have Google now, but nothing comes close to the image of all those words in one room.

At the same time, having read and parsed some of the studies that have been published in the journals there, I now know the limits of that information. Over the decades I’ve seen how one study I’d treated as “gospel” was overturned by a new one, or how one theory in prominence would later be found to be utterly false. Yes, I still love the idea of all that information, but I also recognize that God is the best source of truth! And yet, I relate to students, who like me, are always seeking knowledge, so they won’t be acting on someone else’s lies.

Can you tell us more about this University series? About your target audience, any theme continuity, its plots?

If I had to choose one target audience, it would be the group we call millennials—those from their early twenties to mid-thirties. I love this period of time, where we are looking for meaningful direction and purpose in our lives. This is where we set out to make a difference in the world. I keep hearing how the Christian faith is losing this generation because they have not been given a solid biblical foundation. Without this foundation in God’s truths, many have nothing to rely on but what the world teaches, based on flawed studies designed by researchers with an agenda to prove. It’s sort of the modern-day version of the hand-crafted God. And it has about the same power in the end.

The series moves through this life period with the main characters. In One Among Men, Samantha Hart tries to find purpose in her life after having saturated it in rebellious and pleasure-seeking behavior that almost destroyed her. In the next book, An Insignificant Life, Tiffany Lundgren discovers the emptiness of the status she seeks in academia. And of course, there’s a little romance along the way.

What do you hope that a reader will connect with you based upon your novels?

We all want purpose and meaning in our lives and sometimes feel we don’t have enough of what it takes to make a difference. But God can take our smallest offering (like the boy with five loaves and two fish) and make it something great. We just need to give it to Him. Many think they have to do big things and touch lots of people. But sometimes the best work is in the everyday, showing those around us the love of God. It’s not about the number of people you touch, but the depths in which you touch them.


Please share the faith message in ONE AMONG MEN.

That God has a plan for you and it’s a good one. He created you perfectly for it. All you need to do is surrender to His call.

For fun, please share your first thoughts on the following subjects:

Family: My family? They’re a kooky bunch, which means we don’t have to go far for a good laugh.

Small town or big city: Did I ever tell you I have a hard time choosing between only two items? I’d have to say suburbs. In fact, I’d like to see more fiction set in the suburbs. We suburbanites have interesting lives, too. I like being in between the small town and big city. I can travel to one or the other depending on my mood. Small town for R&R, and big city for large events.

Place you long to travel to: Scotland and Africa. Scotland, to see the wild and rugged nature of the countryside, as well as hang out with people who speak with a brogue. Africa, because I think God has something to teach me there.

Hobby: I am a big Christian Contemporary music lover. This book is evidence of that. In fact, music plays a role in the faith journey of one of the characters.

Twitter or Facebook: Email! I told you I’m difficult—just kidding. I’d have to choose Facebook. It’s very hard for me to limit my thoughts to so few characters as Twitter allows.

Favorite novel: Sir Gibbie, by George MacDonald. It’s about a mute boy who does great things. I love it because it was like a letter from God to prepare me for a child with autism who would not be able to speak.

Favorite music: Third Day and NEEDTOBREATHE. In fact, I’m such a Third Day fan I mention them in this novel, thank them in the Acknowledgements, and am in a TD “psycho” fan club called “The Gomers.” I mention NEEDTOBREATHE in my previous novel, At the Edge of a Dark Forest.

Favorite comfort food: Popcorn!

Favorite Christmas dessert: It was always apple pie, but now that I am gluten free, I’ll have to say apple crisp (made with GF Bisquick).

Visti Connie on previous Everyone's Story segment: October 2011 and


Connie's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Do college campus settings intrigue you for #ChristianFiction? Visit with @ConnieAlmony #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

ONE AMONG MEN by @ConnieAlmony: Her job requires she live with 500 college guys #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Everyone’s story: Author @ConnieAlmony: mix college+romance+God and what do you get? (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. She is also the author of At the Edge of a Dark Forest, a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web at ConnieAlmony.com, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com, IndieChristianFictionSearch.Blogspot.com, and LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.

You can also meet her on the following social media outlets:



Glee Josko: Introducing Happy Sis, A Christian Magazine for Women

Everyone's Story is honored to introduce Editor Glee Josko of Happy Sis Magazine. Happy Sis is making its debut this January, and it is sure to be an encouragement to many women. I was blessed when Glee contacted me to be a contributing writer. Since then, I've had the pleasure of getting to know Glee and hope you will be uplifted by her efforts. Please extend a warm hello to Glee, and perhaps consider a prayer for the magazine's success.



What Inspired Me to Launch Happy Sis, a Christian Magazine for Women by Glee Josko

Since my move to Germany in the middle of 2011 to join my new husband, I’ve been an online entrepreneur. There were two reasons why I retired from teaching to embark on online publishing career – first, after eight years of teaching high school Mathematics and debate, I did not find happiness and satisfaction, second, my teaching credentials which I earned in Asia does not apply in Germany. The country has a different educational curriculum. And since we don’t have international schools in our city, I had the excuse to finally retire from teaching.

Because I love fashion and style, I became a fashion blogger. I launched a fashion editorial blogazine, which I built and maintained whole-heartedly. But, although I found relative success in the fashion niche, after more than two years of blogging about style, I started to feel dissatisfied. There was something lacking in my life, like my happiness was never full.

I heard a tiny voice, which was urging me to do something, something more meaningful, but it would require me to take a detour and a complete spiritual revival. The voice was telling me to write about God.

Happy Sis Magazine
For almost three years I’ve been consumed with materials things. I’ve been full of myself and of vainness, and yet God still called me to talk and write about Him. During that time I was terribly confused. I didn’t know what to do or how could I transition from fashion to a Christian niche. But the voice was getting louder and I could not ignore it anymore.

So I decided to sell my fashion blog in order to do what God calls me to do. But after two attempts, I was unable to sell it. I did not find a buyer who would be willing to compensate my three years of hard work. So I asked God what I was supposed to do. It became apparent that I was to keep my style blog because it will finance the launching of a Christian site.

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from website link below.
It took me another eight months before it became clear to me what I was supposed to launch. During that period I renewed my relationship with God and had a spiritual revival. God also led me to write a devotional, The Happy Sis Devotional. Then the idea of a Christian magazine came to me, and then its name, HappySis Magazine. It simply unfolded to me one by one.

While preparing to launch the Happy Sis Magazine, my friend Jem who lives in the UK, suddenly lost her job due to a delayed visa renewal. I invited her to join me. It was also her longtime dream to write Christian devotionals for women and to witness about God through writing, so she quickly agreed. She became my assistant editor.

Since I renewed my relationship with God, I found peace, happiness and contentment in my life. My focus shifted from chasing money and online success into daily gratitude and building a close connection with God. And it is my desire to share the happiness that I found to other women.

I decided to narrow my niche to Christian women because I’m comfortable writing in a girly tone, plus there are tons for feminine topics that I want to explore. It is my prayer to be able to touch as many lives as possible. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I’ve committed myself to following where God will lead me and the magazine.

HappySis debuts in January 2015--a great way to begin the New Year! The first issue will be available on the magazine's website on The Store page.

Tweet This for HappySis:
Meet Glee, editor of Happy Sis Magazine @happysismag: A Christian Magazine to encourage women. (Tweet This)

New magazine for women: Happy Sis @happysismag, inspiring women to make God the center of their lives (Tweet This)

Start the New Year on a surer foot for a female relative/friend w/ subscription to Happy Sis Magazine (Tweet This)


Connect with HappySis and Glee at:

Author Bio:
Glee is the editor of Happy Sis Magazine, a happiness and inspirational magazine for Christian women helping them grow in faith and grace, walk in the light, have confidence + the right self-love, and achieve success. She wrote The Happy Sister Devotional: 61 Days of Happiness and Inspiration for Women to encourage women to find happiness in having a close relationship with God.

Get your devotional book copy now! Link onto the HappySis Magazine link.




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