Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Marion Stroud--Stepping Out In Faith

If a blog can beam with pleasure, then Everyone's Story is definitely smiling widely with the introduction of author Marion Stroud. Marion journeyed all the way from her UK home a couple of years ago to attend the ACFW conference and we were roomies. She's a sweet, gracious woman with a big heart; someone who really takes extra time to offer her supportive shoulders.

In her new non-fticion release, IT'S JUST YOU AND ME, LORD, Marion will inspire and uplift women (and I'm sure men too) in prayer. A woman who has spent a lot of time on the mission field and as a guest speaker in various countries, Marion has put her many experiences and insights into her work.  This week, Marion shares with us a prayer excerpt from the her new release, plus a story. So, cuddle up with your cat, pup, a warm mug of cider and enjoy!

Book Giveaway Special:

There’s a lot to be said about women and their relationships, responsibilities, and concerns. It’s Just You and Me, Lord addresses many of these everyday issues and challenges through practical prayers that inspire and encourage women of all ages. Discover how you can draw closer to God, have heartfelt talks with Him, and build and maintain an honest, genuine prayer life. A perfect gift to share with the women in your life.

Marion is graciously offering one copy of IT'S JUST YOU AND ME, LORD to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced on October 5th between 4-5 EST.

Something Beautiful for God by Marion Stroud

What if … I obey God’s prompting, and step out in faith, but nothing seems to happen as a result? I saw a beautiful example of the kind of dogged determination that ‘keeps on keeping on and gives up giving up’ when I was in Bulgaria last year. It moved me so much that I wrote about it in the form of a prayer for my new book ‘It’s just You and Me God’ published by Discovery House in a few weeks time.

Huddled against the early April chill
she sat there in the doorway of that little church
muffled in gloves and scarf,
her shabby winter coat was barely thick enough
to keep her warm.
And yet she sat there in the early morning chill
pulling the rope that reached the bell tower,
so that the single bell tolled out its message,
‘The church is here
God is waiting
Come and worship’.

The building has survived dear Lord
throughout the years
that  aetheistic forces ruled the land.
But now perhaps God seems quite unfamiliar
and  church attendance,
is deemed both dull and out of date,
 to those who’d never known you.
For though I watched her for at least an hour,
as far as I could tell from where I sat ….,
no one came.
The Bulgarian church that inspired Marion

Did her arms ache, dear Lord
and was her heart discouraged?
Feeling perhaps
 that it was hardly worth enduring
the cold, the early rising,
the tuneless clanging
of that solitary bell,
when no one came?

For Lord you couldn’t say it was a lovely sound.
Unlike the joyous peals that thunder out
from churches and cathedrals,
created by a team of eager ‘campanologists’,
a thing of beauty in and of itself,
Especially when in this small village
 no one came.
And little seemed to happen
to reward her work.

And yet Lord
when you whispered to my heart
“You don’t see what is going on
 within the hearts of those who hear”
I realised 
that at the very least
she had an audience
of two.
You, Lord, who saw her sacrifice of love
and treasured it.
And me,
to whom you spoke so clearly.

So thank you Lord
for all the hidden people,
who faithfully rise early
and labour late,
doing the little things you’ve called them to,
in spite of difficulties and disappointments.
‘Tolling’  their particular bell,
so that the people all around them,
whether they seem to listen and respond
or not,
can know that God is here.

They faithfully repeat the news
He loves and values them
And waits with arms outstretched
For them to find their way back home,
To worship.
What If … God speaks to Individuals today? by Marion Stroud

Some people would say that ‘voices in your mind’ require prompt medical attention! Others would call it wishful thinking or an overly vivid imagination. But I had been arguing with God about what He seemed to have said to me, all summer long.

It was Ethel’s fault. A young mum, who had expected to go to Africa as a missionary nurse, she was frustrated by life in suburbia with three under fives.

She had suggested that we hold a coffee morning for our friends who would never go to church. We could have a talk about something of interest, but the speaker would be speaking from a Christian worldview. Initially I thought it was a good idea. Then Ethel dropped her bombshell. “We could have it at your house,” she suggested. “You have a sitting room and a room we could use for a crèche”

Now that was entirely different. My neighbours knew that I went to church but a coffee morning with a speaker … that was rather too public a step of faith. With three children under five, lots of church activities and the beginning of a writing career to nurture, I had plenty to do. “We’d have to wait till the autumn “I said looking at my 3 month old daughter cooing happily in her pram.  I hoped that Ethel would have forgotten by then, and she may have done so. But God did not…

 “Who would come Father?” I prayed. “Most people think that God-talk belongs in church.

“What did Jesus do?” God whispered

I thought about that. Jesus often taught in homes , and had one of his most life changing encounters with a woman while he was just sitting by a well when his disciples went shopping. We don’t have any wells where I live but there are supermarkets where women gather. I shuddered. A coffee morning sounded easier.

“But Father,” I said. “Who would I ask? And what would I say?”

“Trust Me. I’ll point you to the people and give you the words.”

“But Father, we have 6 children under 5 years old between us. What if they get sick? We’d have to cancel.”

“Trust Me.”

The summer slipped by and I kept pushing all thoughts of coffee mornings to the back of my mind. Then, one Sunday morning, the sermon was on the call of Moses. As I listened to Moses’ reasons for not confronting Pharaoh, I heard my own voice. I squirmed as Moses pleaded ‘Lord please! Send anyone else!’
“Ok! I get the message,” I prayed rather ungraciously. “But You’ll have to do it Lord, because I can’t see how it will work.”

And so the adventure with God began. For two years we jogged along happily, meeting fortnightly during term time. But nothing obvious HAPPENED spiritually until Doreen came to speak to us. She had come to faith eight years after she was married and her husband was not happy. She told us about the ways this had impacted her marriage, and her audience bombarded  her with questions afterwards.

What do you do about the children?” asked one.

“I’d love to have a faith but I’m afraid of what it would do to my marriage!” said another.

What do you do about going to church when he wants to go out for the day?”

On and on the questions flowed, until finally I asked the assembled company "Isn’t there a book that looks at marriage from this perspective?’

“Oh no!” they assured me. “All the books on marriage we’ve seen, assume that you share your faith.”

“You write a book for these women,” God whispered.

“How can I?” I protested, not really believing what I was hearing. “Gordon and I were both Christians when we got married. What do I know about such a challenging situation? Anyway I write fiction for children, not adult non-fiction.”

“Step out in faith and I will help you.”

It was another ‘I am sending you to Pharaoh’ moment. I wriggled and struggled but this time I wasn’t quite so slow to respond, and wrote a book that changed the course of my life!

Author Bio:
Marion is married to Gordon, a retired dentist. They have five adult children and sixteen grandchildren, ranging in age from 19 to 2 years old. One of the joys of living in a town that many races call home, is the sheer variety of cultures and lifestyles that they see every day. Marion enjoys entertaining, walking, going to concerts and the theatre, reading and travel. With her husband, they lead a small group from church, where together they learn more about applying their faith to every day life. 
Marion, who has also lived in the Far East as a child, is a cross-cultural trainer for Media Associates Int.     
You can find Marion on the web at:

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Special Presentation: The Genesis Project

The Genesis Project

As long as you can still breathe, there is HOPE!

I am pleased to re-introduce a very special person and friend, to Everyone’s Story, Tom Blubaugh. Tom, the author of NIGHT OF THE COSSACK, appeared on this blog in April where he received many international viewer hits. Today, Tom is visiting not as an author but rather to share with us a mission that he has committed to: The Genesis Project, a means of reaching out and helping those who are seeking addiction recovery. Tom shares on the Genesis site that he once saw a church sign that said “God accepts you exactly the way you are but He loves you too much to leave you that way.” Truly, a powerful statement! Please join Tom in this exclusive interview where he shares more on his story about the Genesis Project and why it is so dear to his heart.

A Q&A on The Genesis Project:

Please describe what the Genesis Project is and who you hope to reach out to?

The Genesis Project is a ministry to the abused, the addicted  
and the homeless. My purpose is to give them helps and answers in their pain, life and Christian walk. Genesis promotes a new beginning.

What is your personal motivation for beginning this project? And what is your sustaining impetus for carrying it through?

I was raised in a religious home by an alcoholic father and a codependent mother. At age 12, I was sexually molested by a priest. My life became very confusing. I had no respect for authority and became a convicted felon at age 15. My life was a life of performance, low self-esteem, low self-worth and fear. The first born child is normally (whatever that word really means0 a parent-pleaser, the responsible one who obeys the parental standards—not me. I joined the navy after graduating from high school with a D-. If it weren’t for a caring teacher, I wouldn’t have graduated. I was an angry child. I didn’t know this because I didn’t feel angry, but I suppressed all the anger from my emotional pain. I married at age 24 and was divorced 5 years later. We remarried in 1970 and I became a Christian on Dec. 13th of that year.  In the spring of 1971 I went into severe depression and, I know now, I imploded. All the suppressed anger erupted and scared me. I won’t describe the language or thoughts that I projected toward God, but it terrified me. My perception of God wasn’t healthy, but I think I somehow knew it was safe to be angry with Him, on some level, but at the same time I was deathly afraid of Him. Long story short, in May of 1995, I ended up homeless. I went to a homeless men’s shelter and started rebuilding my life. God had His hands on me and was directing me. In 2002, He told me to establish the Genesis website. He told me He would reach millions of people through it, but when I asked Him how, He said, “that is none of your business.”  This is the answer to your first question.

I hang on to Prov. 16:9 and 19:21. I’m a writer. I have written numerous articles about my life experiences and what I’ve learned from them, how they relate to God and I’ve posted them on the Genesis site. I recently moved the site to Wordpress and I’m rewriting these articles to bring them up to date and I’ll be posting them as blog articles on Tuesdays and Saturdays. One of the problems I had was getting any spiritual help with my angry thoughts. Every time I’d ask a Christian, whether it was a lay person or pastor, I get a quick answer. Usually, “that’s normal.” Okay, so why didn’t I hear any messages on the topic? How come no one shared their experience with it? Why didn’t someone sit down with me and say, “this is how I dealt with it.”  I thought that if I was struggling with it and having a hard time finding help, so were others. In 1987 I found out about Adult Children of Alcoholics, a 12 step program, and I found others like me who were suffering and working toward healing. My sustaining impetus for carrying through is my obedience to the Lord and my desire to help others find answers and help.

Do you have both a short-term and long-term goal for the project?

My short-term goal is to revise the site and make it more effective. It is a work in progress and probably always will be. My long term goal is to share as much as I can that will help others on the path develop and strong relationship with Christ, develop strong relationships, understand who their worth in Christ and find peace.

Have you received any feedback or statistical data to determine if the project is on course?

I know the site receives visitors from numerous countries, that most of them are seeking help with resentments and personal peace and that there are some 2,500 unique visitors a month. One in four bookmarks the site. 38% of the visitors are first time visitors and 62% are returning visitors. The USA, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Chine and Russian
Federation are the top five countries to visit this month.

If you were given only 30 seconds or so--or let's say, one sentence--to encourage someone about to reach out for something that inevitably hurts them/their loved ones, what would that be?

There is nothing I can say that will stop a person from taking this action. If they’re an addict and haven’t experienced enough pain from their addiction, my words will fall on ears that don’t want to hear. It may be different if someone comes to me and tells me they are thinking about doing drugs, but it’s highly unlikely this will happen--unless they are being pressured by someone and they are afraid of giving in.
If you have any questions or comments for Tom on The Genesis Project, he'll enjoy hearing from you!

Author Bio: Tom Blubaugh was raised in a small town in southeast KS. He began writing poetry at age fourteen. Tom has written nonfiction writer most of his adult life. He self-published his first book Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry in 1974.  Tom wrote articles for denominational and business magazines  from 1975 through 1995. He co-wrote The Great Adventure for Barbour Publishing Co. in 2009. Bound by Faith Publishers published his first fiction Night of the Cossack in April, 2011. In Feb., 2012, Tom was a guest writer in Unschackled by CJ Hitz, Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart. Tom is married to Barbara. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren. Both are retired. Tom has been public speaker for 40 years. He was a self-employed entrepreneur  from1973 to 1995. Tom retired in 2004 and has devoted most of his time to writing and volunteer work.

You can find Tom on the web at:
The Write Trail (Tom's blog)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kathi Macias: The "Easy Writer" Who Writes Heart-grabbing Stories

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes back author Kathi Macias. Kathi writers powerfully gripping novels about some of the world's more grittier topics, but as you will see, they're stories that instead of focusing on sordid details zero in on a very powerful Love. There's a lot to share this week: a great book giveaway, a blurb and You-tube video, and then an interview with Kathi. And, now I finally "get" where "Easy Writer" comes from!

Everyone's Story runs from Friday to Friday. However, because of the ACFW conference, Kathi's visit with us will extend to Monday, September 24th, followed by a very special visit starting on that Monday--and yes, you're being kept in suspense!

Please enjoy our time with Kathi. She'd enjoy hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Kathi is graciously offering the third (and final) book in the Freedom Series, on the topic of human trafficking (specifically, child sex slavery). One randomly chosen commenter will win one copy of THE DELIVERER. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 24th.

A blurb follows, and then a You-Tube video.

The Deliverer picks up just months after Special Delivery leaves off, continuing with the stories of Mara, freed from slavery but still struggling with scars and memories from the past; Jonathan, attending Bible college but strongly drawn to Mara, despite her past; and Lawan, having escaped the brothel in Thailand and miraculously reunited with her younger sister in the US and adopted by the same family. Will Mara be able to move past the pain and hatred that bind her, even if it means traveling back to the place where her parents betrayed her and sold her into sexual slavery? Will she allow The Deliverer to set her free—once and for all?

An Interview with Kathi Macias:
What inspired you to write the Freedom Series?

I was finishing up writing my previous fiction series, The Extreme Devotion Series, about the persecuted Church around the world, when my publisher asked what topic I would like to tackle next. We tossed a couple of ideas back and forth, but when she suggested human trafficking, particularly child sex slavery, I agreed to do some preliminary research and get back to her. I knew human trafficking existed and that it was a terrible thing, but I didn’t believe it existed here, in the US, and I had no idea how prevalent it was worldwide. When I discovered there are approximately 27 million people held in some sort of human trafficking (modern-day slavery) today, with estimates of 100,000 to 300,000 minors in sexual slavery in the United States right now, I was horrified. I was also convinced that I had to do whatever I could to help educate others on this monstrous crime and to call them to get involved in stopping it.

The Freedom Series, published by New Hope Publishers, follows your other notable series, Extreme Devotion. As an author, did you set out to write a series each time or did one story leave you personally hungering to explore more through other character’s viewpoints?

The Extreme Devotion Series was launched with my twenty-year passion to write book one, No Greater Love, set in South Africa in 1989, just before the fall of Apartheid. But as I talked to New Hope about the book (who at that time had never published any fiction), I was encouraged to consider a series in order to better launch their first-ever fiction line, “Fiction with a Mission.” Being a long-time supporter of Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, and other such ministries, I was already familiar with many around the world who paid a huge price for their faith, so it was no problem to come up with more stories to flesh out the series. Unlike The Extreme Devotion Series, however, which consists of four books with four completely different stories/characters/settings, The Freedom Series is three books that follow the main characters throughout the continuation of the same story.

Your stories are not a light-read. Despite being a best-selling and award-winning author, did you worry about how your Freedom or Extreme Devotion novels would be received?

Absolutely! And to be truthful, it’s been an uphill battle to generate interest in such difficult topics. Once I convince someone to try one of the books in either series, they proclaim they’re hooked and can’t wait to read the rest. But so many, when they learn of the topics around which the series are built, decline to read them, saying they prefer something “less dark” when it comes to fiction. I can certainly understand and respect that, but like I always tell anyone who will listen, I don’t write about the darkness; I write about the Light that shines in the darkness!

Please share with us why you cite the scripture of Habakkuk 2:2 on your website. What importance does it hold for you?

Habakkuk 2:2 epitomizes the way I look at a writing ministry. The verse admonishes us to “write the vision” and “make it plain.” That’s a two-part instruction, and writing clear, readable, applicable material is a two-part process. Yes, I believe God inspires us to write on a particular topic or even give us the basic story, but I do not believe He gives us every word. The Canon is closed! It is up to us to write down the vision we believe God has given us—and then to go back and work as hard and long as it takes to polish that written vision so we will honor the One we claim has inspired us to write it in the first place.

You began your writing career not as a novelist but rather as a newspaper columnist and reporter. In hindsight, would you say this helped form your seemingly author’s theme of writing about the ugly truth of what happens in this world?

I can’t give enough credit to my journalism background when it comes to my writing today. Not only did it open my eyes to the often ugly truths that are part of a fallen world, it also helped me learn how to research those ugly truths—and how to write about them cleanly and efficiently, eliminating the need for numerous, in-depth rewrites and edits. That’s not to say I don’t spent the time on the second part of that Habakkuk 2:2 admonition to “make it plain,” but it does mean that my initial draft is relatively clean and well organized, thus requiring less editing and tweaking.

As a Christian, what message do you hope to show in your novels?

As I said earlier, though many of topics I tackle are dark, I don’t write about the darkness; I write about the Light that shines in the darkness. That is such a key for me! After all, if we don’t believe that the Light of Christ is strong enough to penetrate even the most evil darkness, then we have made our God far too small. People in dire situations need to know that there is nothing too hard for God; that He is able to rescue even them; and that He loves them enough to go to any lengths to do so.

And for a fun question: do you and your husband still go biking? What joy does this bring to you?

I must confess that after forty years of Harley-riding, my husband has traded in his bike for a Corvette. I am still known as “Easy Writer,” as we zip through town in that Sunburst Orange sports car, but I don’t have to wear a helmet anymore. When you get to my age (looking 65 in the eyeball!), that’s a welcome change.

Author Bio:

Kathi Macias ( is a multi-award-winning author of 40 books, including the Golden Scrolls 2011 Novel of the Year and Carol Award Finalist, Red Ink. A popular speaker at both women’s and writers’ events, Kathi lives in Southern California with her husband, Al.

You can find Kathi on the web at:

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