Friday, March 27, 2015

Bobbie Ann Cole: Godincidences Vs. Fears

Everyone's Story welcomes author Bobbie Ann Cole. I was introduced to Bobbie and her stirring memoir writing on another blog, which I won her giveaway offer of SHE DOES NOT FEAR THE SNOW. I'm so glad she accepted my invitation to appear here, perfect timing with Easter days away. And speaking about soul stirring, when you have a chance, please check out her blog, Encounters With Jesus. Bobbie has a lot to share with us this week so let's turn it over to this amazing guest. We're both looking forward to hearing from you!

Bobbie Ann is offering 1 copy of her memoir SHE DOES NOT FEAR THE SNOW to 1 commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, April 3rd between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

Questions for Bobbie Ann Cole:

In your stirring video you openly speak about God’s call to you and what He has done for you. Yet, many are unable to share these personal stories. Why do you think it’s necessary?

We have to take our courage in our two hands and share our Jesus stories because they inspire and encourage believers and non-believers both. Jesus took me from despair to hope and redemption. He drew me to Himself in miraculous ways. My story of the blessings He showered upon me blesses not only me but all those who hear or read it. 

If your life portrait hung in a museum as an abstract painting, some may interpret it as an enviable snippet of life: nice family life, a wonderful writing career, and reasonable peace. Yet, they might not see the ended business, or marriage, or cancer. Why do you describe this time as comparable to Jonah in the whale’s belly?

The whale swallowed Jonah as he sank down to the bottom of the ocean, drowning. Inside was cold and dark and foul-smelling. Terrified, Jonah must have thought – “This is the end. I’m going to die here.”

He couldn’t see that the whale was keeping him safe and taking him on a journey, not until it spewed him out on a beautiful beach. There, Jonah realized he could start over. In actual fact, however, the fresh start began way earlier, when he was first swallowed up.

This dark period of unseen protection was my story, too. It’s all our stories of redemption. God is at work way before we notice.

God’s a pretty fascinating matchmaker. Please tell us about how your pilgrimage to an Israeli synagogue’s prayer tower led you to meet your second husband?

It was actually a Jerusalem Christian congregation that I found myself in, against my own better judgement. I couldn’t say no to joining my Christian friend and traveling companion for Sunday worship, after she had graciously come to synagogue with me on the Sabbath.

In the prayer tower, I received prophecy that Jesus would take me as His bride and bring me a new husband.

I thought, “That’s not going to happen.”

I had a dire body image after cancer and hadn’t so much as dated in the two years since my long-term marriage had ended.

But it did happen and the path that took me there was composed of miracle after miracle.

I met the man who is now my husband 3,000 miles from my UK home, in Canada. That was where God led me through signs and wonders. I came home from that cup of tea meeting to write in my diary, “I want to marry this man.”

And, though he needed some persuading, that is what I did.

On that note, do you believe in coincidences or that God has a reason for everything?

I believe in Godincidences. Godincidences are when He puts things in place that shift us, either physically, to another place, or mentally, in our attitudes, but things look like they just came together by themselves.

Back to that prayer tower where you’re certain that you received a prophetic message from God. Have you seen various ways He reaches out to others? Do you believe that he calls us all at different times in our lives? What can we do to hear Him more clearly?

I have been truly blessed to hear about some amazing things God has done as I’ve helped others to share their own stories. For instance, Sue Lambropoulos heard from God that He would reunite her with her earthly father, even though she thought at the time that she hated him: Elaine Kaley was injured in a car crash that left her with a “Rice Krispie arm”, that the doctor said would be of no further use to her. Yet God healed her completely:

As to calling everyone to faith, I suspect God does precisely that. But there are many who just do not or will not hear.

To hear God, we have to be open to hearing Him. One sceptic sneered that it was very “convenient” that God should call me when I was at a low ebb, the implication being that I was looking for any old crutch and latched on to Him.

I believe things were the opposite way around: it was because I was needy that God was compassionate, reaching out to lift up my head when He did. 

Where did the title of your memoir, SHE DID NOT FEAR THE SNOW, come from?

The title is a line from Proverbs 31 which describes a “good woman”. She has 22 attributes, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in order. “She does not fear the snow for her household,” comes near the middle.

As my marriage ended, I asked to be shown what lay ahead. I saw a pristine field of snow, rimmed by fir trees. I thought this picture indicated new beginnings, somewhere to make footprints, although I might sink into deep drifts. I never for a moment imagined it to be a real picture of my future in the snowy wastes of Canada!

I have to confess that the title is a bit of a fib – I do actually fear the Canadian snow, which can be higher than I am.

Will you be writing any fiction?

I have a fiction book written but it won’t be out until next year because of other projects. The working title of this book is Being Lena Levi. It is 1950. Marlene, 14 ½, comes home from school to find a mother she never knew she had. She thought Mum was Mum and that she was “properly British”.

Mutti, her biological mother, is a Holocaust survivor who is now living on a kibbutz in the newly-formed State of Israel. Mum, thinking Mutti perished in the camps in the War, as so many Jews did, never told Marlene the truth. Now Marlene must choose between two mothers and two lives.

Please tell us about your Training Disciples Indeed course.

We all want to do what Jesus asked us to do, namely tell everyone about what we have found in Him. Our churches would love us to be doing this and helping to grow the Kingdom.

But it’s not easy when people close their ears. Bible verses and theology may be the last thing they want to hear. They may, however, be willing to hear a story, an episode from our lives that demonstrates the love Jesus has for us.

The Disciples Indeed Workbook, available through Amazon, helps us tell our stories powerfully and coherently, as well as offering many suggestions of ways we can share.

I also teach the course through workshops. It will very soon be available as a Program for church leaders to teach as workshops where they are. Watch my page.

For fun: what’s the last book you’ve read for light entertainment?

I have just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. She’s a great writer and the book unfolds in a really compelling way. I was loving it until the end. Sadly, however, that felt like a cop out. I was very disappointed.

Bonus: You can get Bobbie Ann's FREE Story Structure Success Sheet here:   

Bobbie Ann's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Amazing story: #Memoir author Bobbie Ann Cole @cole_bobbie shares when God called her & what He did. (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: Bobbie Ann Cole @cole_bobbie & Godincidences #BookGiveaway (Tweet This) 

Inspirational #BookGiveaway: SHE DID NOT FEAR THE SNOW by Bobbie Ann Cole @cole_bobbie (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Bobbie Ann Cole is a writer, speaker and teacher. Her God story, She Does Not Fear the Snow,  is an Amazon #1 bestseller with over 50 reviews worldwide. She is currently working on Love Triangles, her account of her life as a Jewish Christian living in Israel, the Land Jesus loved. Bobbie’s Disciples Indeed Workbook will help you tell your faith story.

Places to connect with Bobbie Ann:


Friday, March 20, 2015

Sharon A. Lavy: The One Thing God Sees In You

Everyone's Story welcomes author Sharon A. Lavy. I see Sharon everywhere--and I'm glad I do. Whether at ACFW conferences, on Twitter, or you name it, I've been blessed to get to know Sharon a bit through the years and am pleased she accepted my invitation to guest on my blog. Please welcome Sharon this week as she shares a unique perspective on dress designing and our loving God. Also, check out her lovely BookGiveaway. Both Sharon and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sharon is offering 1 copy of her newest release, FAREWELL FOR A WHILE, either print copy (US residents only) or e-version. The winner will be announced here on Friday, March 27th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

God Uses Flawed People by Sharon A. Lavy

This photo represents two of my enjoyable pastimes. Sewing and dress design. The dress on the form is one I designed for my youngest daughter-in-love. She showed me a dress she liked. Except for this, and that, and whatever, of course. This dress evolved from her request.

Everyone loves the dress form because I have to pin the dresses in the back to look smooth on the form. My friends say if I would just put one of their dresses on the form, they could feel skinny too.

The dress I am wearing in the photo represents spiritual growth on my part. You see, years ago I wouldn't be caught wearing a flawed garment. Not if it was noticeable. I was just too insecure. 

I love black and white. I also love red. Pink not so much but this fabric really called to me. So I bought it and put it with my stash.

And one day, I was getting ready to make a dress, went to my fabric drawers and pulled out this piece. I laid it out on the table and was full of flaws like smeared ink from when the fabric went through the printing process. 

I checked to see if I could cut around the flaws, but the flaw repeated every 18 inches or so. Even though I would be able to cut out unflawed cape, collar, and sleeves, almost every other piece of the dress would have a flaw. Sure, the flaws on the bodice would be covered by my cape, but there is no hiding the flaws along the bottom part of the skirt.

I can hardly believe I actually liked the fabric enough to cut it out. But the strangest thing is how I looked on the fabric and then the dress. 

I realized the fabric represents God taking a flawed character (me) and doing a beautiful work. And I feel really good inside whenever I wear it.

I first thought I would only wear this dress when I was not leaving the house. But if I need to go to town, off I go. The flaws on the bottom of the skirt are not so noticeable to me. Only if I look, yes there they are.

To me this dress represents a flawed piece of fabric made into something both beautiful and useful.

Now it if was soiled, or paint splattered, or etc. I would not wear it. But somehow I saw something worthwhile in this fabric, just as God saw something worthwhile in me.

Questions For Sharon:
What is the genre you write in?  Would you explain what it is?

I call it women’s fiction because I care about relationships between women, and families. Romance is a part of life and I include it in my storiess but it is not intended to be the sole focus of the book.

Other’s call my writing German Baptist fiction which would be a sub-genre to Amish fiction.

I write to share what God has given me. Even if it helps only one person.

What is the spiritual message in Farewell For A While?  What can readers expect to get from reading it?

We need to search for God’s will and not our own. We have to give up some of our pre-conceived ideas to serve Him. And most importantly of all…God wants to have a personal relationship with each and every one of us.

What are you working on now?

I am working on book three of the Sometimes we’re asked to forgiving the unforgivable series. The title is Forgiving the Unforgivable. As with all my novels I find myself learning lessons right along with my characters.

Sharon's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story: Meet Sharon A. Lavy @OldOrderTweeter, a dress designer following God’s patterns. (Tweet This)

If you like #AmishFiction try @OldOrderTweeter Sharon A. Lavy’s #GermanBaptistFiction #BookGiveaway (Tweet This) 

A spiritual lesson from a dress pattern? Sharon A. Lavy @OldOrderTweeter shares. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Sharon A. Lavy was born into an Old German Baptist family. This Anabaptist group are often mistaken for Amish.
While Sharon was growing up her father went to medical school at George Washington University. He interned and took his residency at a hospital in Sacramento, California.
She inherited her love of books from her father and when she wasn't exploring the hospital where he worked, Sharon spent many hours pouring over his medical books.
When she married, Sharon moved with her husband to a farm in Southwest Ohio where they reared five children.
While she loves to read many genre, her own writing tends to feature medical drama among the Old German Baptist community.

Places to connect with Sharon:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Patty Wysong: Remembering Why I Write

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes the phenomenal Patty Wysong. Patty is a multi-talented woman and it shows in her writing, website design, her love for family, friends, and animals, and her patience in and desire to help others. I've gotten to know first-hand about this extraordinary woman by working with her on the Amazon best-selling CHRISTMAS TREASURES: A COLLECTION OF CHRISTMAS STORIES, as well as when she helped me with frantic questions about my blog. I'm thankful Patty accepted my invitation to guest this week. She shares her heart, and I hope you will share a fond hello and perhaps a few other thoughts about traveling through different seasons of life, being true to yourself, being true to God.

***I'll love for you to take a moment and take the short poll on the right-hand sidebar of how far you're willing to read before deciding a book isn't for you. Thanks so much.

Patti is offering 1 e-copy of Jeff Goins' spiritual memoir THE IN-BETWEEN, a book that Patty says was a big help during her time of silence. The winner will be announced here on Friday, March 20th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

Traveling Through Seasons by Patty Wysong

A while back I sensed that God was leading me into a season of silence, and I was right. I was okay with the thought of silence, but I had no idea it would last as long as it has. Like grieving, I think I’ve gone through every stage: sad, depressed, angry, dejected, acceptance, comfort within the silence, longing for the words to restart… I’ve been through all those and more a few times now.

God has been faithful throughout it all… The need to set aside my writing for my family. The transition to life on the road and being gone half-the-time. The sudden and at-that-time unwelcome marriage of a daughter. The birth and death of a huge family business venture. The change from being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to a working mom.

God is always faithful. In the midst of each season He whispered things to my heart that were for me alone, things that kept me going when stopping wasn’t an option.

Now the words are coming again. Slowly. Painstakingly. It’s like water coming out of a rusty pipe that hasn’t been used in a long, long time. With starts and stops, wheezing, gasping, gurgling, sputtering. Words that landed on the page but then I hesitated, hearing all the voices around me. And discouragement set in.

After years of silence, the words had returned, but as I listened to those good voices around me I pulled those first words on paper back to myself. Were they good enough? I’d been silent so long maybe I forgot all I had learned. Maybe I was too rusty. Maybe those words were only for me… All those good voices, crowded out why I wrote.

So I withdrew back into my silence. I had become comfortable there. I became convinced that those written words were just for me.

But like Jeremiah said, there was a burning in my bones. Deep inside I knew the words needed freeing. That in freeing them I would be free again. The problem was, I had lost my voice. I had lost my nerve.

Then my sister started reading a book I’d recommended. As we chatted about it she pointed me to the questions in a simple exercise. Why do you write? What drives your desire to write? What is its central purpose? She encouraged me to pull out my journal and work through those questions. Smart lady. Two nights later, pen in hand, the words slowly began. Then it came pouring out and I wrote as fast as I could. As I wrote joy returned.

I remembered why I wrote.

I saw and recognized what drives me to write and its purpose on several levels.

It’s true. Obedience leads to joy.

Sure, the words still feel rusty to me. They still come in gurgles and sputterings. But that’s okay. I’ve remembered why I write and I’ve retuned my ears to the Voice. Once again I’m writing out of obedience and that obedience is bringing me abounding joy, regardless of the outcome.

So tell me, have you become discouraged with your writing? Maybe it’s time to go back and rediscover why you write. What is it that drives you to write?

Patty's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story: Why does @PattyWysong say obedience leads to joy? (Tweet This)

Meet lovable @PattyWysong: author, talented blogger, and mom to Capuchin monkeys. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Check out @PattyWysong’s #BookGiveaway of Jeff Goin’s book THE IN-BETWEEN (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Since Patty quit running from God's call on her life and surrendered her pen to Him, she's been happy. Life is never dull as she juggles being a wife, mom to a handful of kids and a couple of Capuchin monkeys, life on the road, a warehouse manager, and being a writer. As long as she's obeying God's leading, she figures that sanity is a novelty and not a necessity in the zoo she lives in. Patty clings to the promise that God will enable her to do what He asks of her, otherwise she would be living with the scaredy cats at the Funny Farm and not just occasionally visiting. Her book, Waging War on Worry and Winning Peace will be available on Kindle soon.

You can find her on her blog, Patterings, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too.

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