Friday, August 17, 2012

Julie L. Cannon: Re-fashioned By God And Lovin' It

Everyone's Story welcomes this week's guest, multi-published author Julie Cannon. Although Simon & Schuster describes her Homegrown Series as Southern-fried Soul Food, I'd like to think of Julie as a role model for hope. As you will experience in Julie's personal account below, back in college Julie was involved in a horrific accident. So bad, that her parents were cautioned by specialists of what to expect--or not expect--from a brain injury. And, as you will also see, Julie is a walking miracle. 

How does one still have faith in a God when all seems doom and gloom? Sit back in a comfy chair and visit with Julie as she shares her story. Plus, she's offering a dynamic book giveaway!

Book Giveaway:
Julie is offering one copy of her new release TWANG to one commenter. The winner will be announced next Friday, August 24th. For convenience, please leave your email address within the comment.

Thanks For A Brain Injury?! by Julie Cannon

When I was a Junior at the University of Georgia in 1984, I needed a bunch of P.E. credits in order to graduate. I eagerly registered for a class called Fitness for Life; an intensive, multi-sport approach. My class was biking down Milledge Avenue, sans helmets, when an elderly gentleman’s car slammed into me. I’ve got no memory until some sketchy images weeks later in a hospital physical therapy room; learning to walk between parallel bars, squeezing sponges of water from one bowl into another, bottles of phenobarbitol lining the shelf.
When the hospital sent a brain-injury specialist to prepare my family for their new reality, I was oblivious. Apparently my mother still dwells only on the good things because she often remarks, “You’re a walking miracle! God’s been good to you, Julie.”

Well, at first I was not so sure about all the ‘God’s been good to you’ talk. Trips to the neurologist revealed a “spark” shooting from the right front temporal lobe of my brain. I was told ‘It’s not a good idea for you to drive.’ I certainly wasn’t feeling the need to say thanks to Someone who’d let this happen.
Though I’d been raised by devout, God-fearing parents who carried me to church every time the doors were open, I’d never had the time, nor the desire for any of that religious stuff. Life was all about me. But as the months passed, and as I journeyed along in my recovery (particularly as I saw the drooling folks in wheelchairs in the neurologist’s waiting room) I began to see that I had indeed been spared, and that there was a greater power at work in me. I’m sure you’re heard people say it was their suffering that drew them closer to God, that it was while in the proverbial dark valley they discovered God was all they needed. For me, this discovery was a brand new, earth-shaking realization, one that blew the door wide open to my soul.

Going through that l-o-n-g valley taught me that God uses the hard things in our lives to re-fashion us. It was the catalyst for a trusting relationship, a peace with God that I would not trade for anything in this world.

Sometimes it still hits me right between the eyes - what a miracle it is that I can walk, that I still possess the mental clarity to tell the stories I’ve always loved to tell! The wreck, the brain injury, and my subsequent journey to recovery wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. But as many challenges as I faced, still face, it was worth it all. In an odd way, I’m even thankful for what became the pivotal moment in my life. I wouldn’t erase it even if I could. What it taught me, what it brought to me is of immeasurable value. I want to tell this to the world.

I like what Donald Maass has to say about writers conveying our passions: “They are always stronger in the mouths of characters than in the prose of the author.” One of the characters in my novel Twang  is Tonilynn Hamby, beautician to country music diva Jenny Cloud. Tonilynn has gone through her own valleys, times when she was teetering on the abyss of despair. Now she feels she has wisdom to offer recording star Jenny Cloud when it comes to ugly childhood memories:

“This world would be so much poorer without your songs. You’ve got to understand, hon, in God’s economy, nothing we experience in this earthly life is wasted. Please let him pour his love on hurting, vulnerable people through you. He can make something beautiful and good come out of your ugliest experiences, if you’ll just let him! I’m begging you, just ask him to help you dig it all up!”

Jenny is not sure she can trust Tonilynn’s faith or her advice. Tonilynn is not deterred. “It’s the only way to healing, Jennifer,” Tonilynn’s brown eyes went soft with concern. “Believe me, God cares, and he understands our hurt. He used my hurts as a way of ministering to others when I finally looked them in the eye, and he can use yours. Pull up whatever it is that’s still buried and use it to write a song.”

Jenny Cloud is stubborn. It takes a natural disaster to drive her to her knees.
Twang is about how to trust God with a despicable memory, something you think is totally unredeemable, and find out he’s got something beautiful he can fashion from it. If you like spiritually daring stories, I hope you’ll consider checking out Twang.

Can you relate to either Julie's experiences, or that of her characters Jenny Cloud or Tonilynn? Julie will enjoy hearing from you if you'd like to leave a comment ♥

Julie's Books:
Twang (Abingdon Press) Coming August 1 2012
I'll Be Home for Christmas (Summerside Press)
The Romance Readers' Book Club (Penguin Plume)
Those Pearly Gates (Simon & Schuster)
'Mater Biscuit (Simon & Schuster)
Truelove & Homegrown Tomatoes (Simon & Schuster)

Author Bio:

Julie L. Cannon is the author of the award-winning Homegrown series, published by Simon & Schuster and described as ‘Southern-fried soul food.’ Her novel I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Summerside Press, Sept. ‘10, made the CBA Bestseller List as well as Nielsen’s Top 50 Inspirational Titles. Abingdon Press will release Twang  in August 2012, and Scarlett Says in October 2013. When she isn’t busy tending her tomato patch, Julie can be found listening to country music or teaching memoir-writing workshops. She lives in Watkinsville, Georgia. Visit her website at and connect with her on Facebook at and on Twitter at       


  1. The closest I ever felt to God was when I was in my deepest valley. I prayed almost constantly, asking for advice. At one point I changed my prayer. I told God what I wanted to do, but I asked him what He wanted me to do, and I asked for the strength to do whatever that was. I prayed for three days almost non-stop.

    The Christian station I used to listen to on the radio had a lot of talk shows. During those three days it seemed like every show on that station was addressing my issue, and every one was telling me to do the exact opposite of what I wanted to do.

    Finally, on the third day, I had a peace. The tears stopped, the emptiness stopped, the pain didn't seem as intense. I knew what God wanted me to do. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I knew He'd be there to help me.

    He got me through when I wanted to quit. The situation slowly turned around and somehow became something wonderful. I kept asking Him for strength and He kept delivering it.

    I thought I was close to God before that time in my life, but I got so much closer to Him during that period. It was tough, but it was worth it. And God showed me some things about myself, too, that needed changing.

    My walk with Him has been much closer after that experience than it was before. I had already known in my head that God is all I really need. But during that time I found out in my heart that it's really true.

    1. Donna, thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony with us, as well as for visiting Everyone's Story. I too have been--and continue to go--through so many valleys of ups and downs. I'm not asking for a medal--as human beings, we all go through this every single day of our lives. The raw truth, as you've expressed, is that it hurts and shakes us up, as well as distorts our faith. Thanks for that awesome bottom line of what really counts: God is really all we need. Everything else... uh, let's use a cliche this time, "is gravy"!

      May today be an up day for you, for everyone ♡

    2. Dear Donna, Thank you for your story! I enjoyed reading about how God redeemed the seemingly unredeemable in your life too.

      You made me think of a line - 'There's Value in the Valleys' - I agree that the valleys aren't fun when we're in them, but once they're behind us, it's a beautiful feeling to look back and see that they had value.

      Onward and Upward,
      Truly, Julie

  2. Such wise and beautiful words. I've seen the truth in what you say--in hindsight. After a struggle, I can always see God's hand and intimate grace, and yet, so often, when I'm in the midst of it my default position is that of self-pity. My goal is to hit the point of praise *prior* to my "rescue." To truly get to a point where, trusting in God's goodness and faithfulness, I can find join even in the struggle. Maybe not joy of the struggle itself, but instead, in the God who carries me through it.

    Thanks, Julie, for the poignant reminder that God is good even our current circumstances seem to say otherwise.

    1. Jennifer, welcome back to Everyone's Story--a place you're always welcome ♡ Out of all the things to admit, I know from my own experience, that it's not easy to admit self-pity, nor is it socially though of as healthy. But, ouch, it it so very human, and yes, it's the default setting for me too, especially when I'm pushing exhaustion. I carried with me Donna's message throughout my work day today: God is all I really need. Wow--it helped me! Then, after work, while grocery shopping, I think evil started to prod me in the side and pushed me toward despair (or was that the worry over the price of groceries--yes, that's a joke!) until I saw the cover of some magazine with Mother Theresa's photo on it. Okay. I counted my blessings. Pushed away the last of the negative feelings. Yet, we must remember that we, as Christians, will continue to live in 2 parallel worlds: the earth of achievement, wanting more, wanting better, etc. and living for Him. We'll humans. We'll going to always go up & down--and this is regardless of whether some external event occurs in our lives. Praise God for loving us all.

      I truly appreciate your comment

    2. Thanks, Elaine, you are so right.

  3. Thanks for your note, Jennifer. There's a beauty in hearing other souls' stories about their life journey. You made me think of that poem called 'God's Footprints' or 'Footprints in the Sand' or something to that effect. God Bless you on your journey!

  4. Your story, Donna's story, and mine are all the same. Not the circumstances, but the story. I am still climbing out of my own valley. People ask how I can be happy, and my answer is that I thank God for the valley. I'm closer to Him than I ever was. I wonder if every Christian is provided with a valley (or valleys)for that specific purpose: to draw us closer to our Lord.

    1. Linda, I'm glad you visited Everyone's Story today. What an interesting thought: that each of us may be provided with our own unique valley so that we may be drawn toward God. While I believe that He doesn't create difficult times to punish us, it is a fascinating thought that we each need to learn something individualistic.

      Thanks for sharing. I pray that you have ease climbing out of your valley.

  5. Dear Linda,

    Thanks for stopping by! I teach writing workshops and one exercise is writing about a hard, scary experience.

    When you're all the way up and out of your valley, when you're strong enough, maybe you could write about it?

    I know, for me, writing is cathartic. It often clarifies things even more. Sometimes I don't even know some of the 'beauty from ashes' I gleaned from a hard experience until I do this. Plus, it could help someone else going through something similar.

    God bless you on your life's journey!

  6. Hi, what an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it. It was nice to find you here, I have been following you on Twitter for some time. Thanks for all your inspiring tweets. Blessings to you.

    1. Thanks for your visit, Pilar. I'm sure Julie will be delighted to see that one of her fans has followed her here :)

  7. Hey Pilar! Thanks for following me on Twitter and for visiting me on Elaine's blog. I'm glad you find my story inspiring. That makes my trip through the valley all the more worthwhile! Truly, Julie

  8. Inspiring read. I needed this today... Thank you

  9. Dear stock picks,

    It's my pleasure. Honestly. Thank you for visiting Everyone's Story. The stories here uplift and encourage me, too. Sometimes when I read the responses to a blog, I think "What a great story that is! Hope he/she writes it down."

    1. Julie, I agree. One of the most beautiful surprises I've received after starting this blog was the sharing of uplifting stories.

  10. Julie, thanks for being such a attentive and sweet guest this past week. Your segment has received lots of hits and I'm sure this will lead to many new fans. You can count me as one ♡
    And, thanks too for the gracious gift of a book giveaway!

    The winner of Julie's novel, TWANG, is Pilar. Congratulations. Julie and I will contact you in separate emails.


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