How to Entertain and Minister with Christian Fiction

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Today’s interview is with Miralee Ferrell author of Blowing on Dandelions, one of our featured titles in our 99-cent fiction sale.

Tell us about your background and how you started writing.

I had no plans to ever write for publication. In fact, I’d never written anything other than a journal, letters to friends, and term papers in high school and college. But God spoke to me through a pastor who prayed with me and told me he believed God was calling me to write—not just to write, but to be published. Even after having 10 books in print, it still amazes me that I’m published, but I’m to the point where I can’t imagine doing anything else. I truly love it and am so thankful He put my feet on this path.

How did you develop Blowing on Dandelions? Was there anything that particularly inspired this ebook?

God spoke to my heart about writing that one after an experience I had at a conference. I believe it will minister to many hurting women who’ve experienced a less-than-happy relationship with a mother or grown daughter, as well as bringing enjoyment to romance readers. Blowing on Dandelions was birthed as a result of an encounter with an emotionally damaged woman who’d been hurt many, many times over the years by her emotionally abusive mother. I decided to place it in a historical setting and bring a romance element into play, but the underlying theme of ‘relationship’ is clear through the entire story.

Tell us more about the heroine and hero of the ebook—what do you like most about them?

Katherine Galloway is a very strong woman—and a widow—raising two girls on her own while running a boardinghouse and keeping peace in her household among some rather mysterious and cantankerous boarders. She has a sweet and gentle spirit, even with her mother who is determined to set Katherine straight on nearly everything Katherine does.  The hero is Micah Jacobs, a widower with a teen-aged son. Micah lost his wife 18 months earlier and is determined to guard his heart from any future relationships—until he meets Katherine—and encounters challenges he never expected. I love Micah’s tender and gentle spirit with Katherine and even with Katherine’s mother, who isn’t receptive to his suit toward Katherine. Both Micah and Katherine are gentle but very strong people who know what they believe and what they want in life. I love that!

Where do you find your inspiration for your writing?

Honestly, I’m not sure how to answer that, as it varies almost daily. Definitely from the Lord, but at times it just bubbles and flows, while other times it seems as though I’m trying to tap into a dry spring. When that happens, I go for a walk by myself and pray, or think about my characters, or think about what’s troubling me in the book as I’m going to sleep. Oftentimes I’ll wake with an answer so apparent that I wonder why I didn’t see it before.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer?

When I first started it was coming up with new story ideas, as I truly didn’t see myself as a creative person. As that creativity grew and blossomed, the challenge became learning all the ropes of the publishing industry. Now, I’d have to say the biggest challenge is keeping my life balanced between my home and family, writing new work, all the publicity and marketing that I do behind the scenes, and the editing and polishing that goes on while I’m in the midst of a new story. It’s amazing how much work that must be done to succeed in this business.

You have a new ebook, Dreaming on Daisies, releasing on October 1. Tell us more about this new ebook!

This is actually book 4 in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series. All of the others are set in the boardinghouse owned by Katherine Galloway and her two young daughters. Dreaming on Daisies follows all the same characters as the first three books, but the setting is a ranch on the outside of Baker City, although a number of scenes still take place in the boardinghouse, and we continue to follow many of the same characters.

I love writing anything with an Old West feel, and this one fits that criteria. I believe readers will enjoy the ongoing growth and development of characters they’ve come to love by this point, and will especially enjoy the romance that takes place in this story.

What do you hope your readers take away from reading Blowing on Dandelions?

From the time I started writing I had one major goal and that was to minister to the hearts and lives of hurting women while (hopefully) offering a measure of entertainment to the rest of my reading audience. I’ve been involved in praying with and counseling women for years, and I feel that my writing is an extension of that ministry.

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You can stay up to date on all of Miralee’s upcoming titles on her blog, www.miraleeferrell.com. Be sure to get your copy of Blowing on Dandelions today before our 99-cent sale expires!

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Perseverance and Adventure: An Interview with Kate Lloyd

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Today we have the pleasure of interviewing author Kate Lloyd, a native of Baltimore, Maryland. She spends time with family and friends in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the inspiration for her bestselling novels Leaving Lancaster and Pennsylvania Patchwork. Forever Amish is the third novel in the Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy.

You can get her first novel, A Portrait of Marguerite, for just 99 cents through September 26. 

Tell us about your background and how you started writing.  

When I was in college, an English professor told me I wrote well, but I paid little attention. In my twenties, I typed most of a romance novel on a lark, but never pushed it to completion because I got busy with life. I’ve always enjoyed storytelling. When our sons were young I made up tales and songs to entertain them.

How did A Portrait of Marguerite come about? Was there anything that particularly inspired this ebook?  

A Portrait of Marguerite began itself one morning while I was journaling. As I wrote, the characters sprang to life and the plot unraveled itself. I returned each morning to continue the fun. And I rewrote it ten times. Okay, it wasn’t all fun, but like Marguerite and all my favorite characters, I persevered.

Tell us about the heroine—what is your favorite quality about Marguerite?

I can relate to and admire Marguerite Carr’s determination to overcome her obstacles in spite of inner doubts. We all have them, those negative voices in our ears that are not from God.

You switched to writing Amish fiction. How does A Portrait of Marguerite differ from your later novels?

My passion is writing about challenging and entertaining relationships, plus a splash of romance. At first glance the Amish may seem to dwell at the opposite end of the spectrum from Marguerite, but they don’t. The Amish struggle with many of the same issues and in a manner I find fascinating.

Is there a particular message you want readers to gain when reading A Portrait of Marguerite

I know many who have allowed their childhood dreams to evaporate, be it an artistic endeavor or a relationship with God. It is never too late!

Tell us more about the Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy.

The Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy is composed of three novels: Leaving Lancaster, Pennsylvania Patchwork, and Forever Amish. I prayed and contemplated about writing an Amish novel. I wanted to honor the Amish, but stay true to my Christian beliefs. I think I accomplished my mission. Little did I know how much research would be required—not an easy task with people who aren’t allowed phones in the home or use the Internet, and are admonished to stay apart from the world. I traveled to Lancaster County, met Amish (we also have Mennonite relatives in the area), and continued to deepen and expand friendships. My journey has been exciting and rewarding.

What inspired you to write the trilogy?

I am fascinated with relationships and people in general. The story and characters for Leaving Lancaster leapt into action and off we went on an adventure. Often my characters lead and surprise me with their choices. One unexpected twist still catches me off-guard. Sometimes I’ll ponder an idea or word for days; occasionally the solution pops into my mind in the middle of the night or while walking. My brain is always at work.

Do you base any of your characters or storylines on people, places, or events from your own life? 

My first reaction is ‘no’, but I’m sure my own life experiences come into play. For instance, when writing about grief or exaltation, I reach into my memory to recall sad or euphoric times and use the emotions as a springboard. I became a Christian in my early thirties, an experience I incorporate in my novels. But the majority of my actual life is not similar to my characters’.

Do you have any new ebooks on the horizon?

I’m working on a new manuscript . . . always writing in my head and accumulating characters and their names. I’ll never grow weary of writing. I hope you enjoy stepping into my world of fiction!

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Through September 26, you can get Kate Lloyd’s A Portrait of Marguerite for just 99 cents as a part of our 99-cent fiction sale. Check out all of her ebooks on Vyrso, and explore the world of fiction she creates!

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Breaking Down Walls: An Interview with Joy Jordan-Lake

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The following interview is with Joy Jordan-Lake, author of Blue Hole Back Home, who has had an admittedly odd professional life including time working as a college professor, author, waitress, journalist, university chaplain, director of a homeless program, and head sailing instructor. 

Tell us about your background and how you started writing.

I was born in the inner city of Washington, D.C., but grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee. I was a pretty shy kid, and was sick a good bit in elementary school, so I read voraciously. Becoming a writer was absolutely the only thing I really wanted to do—though goodness knows, I’ve built in enough emergency back up jobs for the dry seasons (thus the Ph.D. in English Lit.) I feel fortunate that I do enjoy teaching a great deal, since it’s often helpful to bring in additional income.  Books meant so much to me, and so significantly shaped how I saw the world, the idea of trying to write books that created a world and characters and ideas for other people just seemed like a worthy thing to do with a life.

How did Blue Hole Back Home come about? Was there anything that particularly inspired this ebook? 

For Blue Hole Back Home, in paper and ebook form, the ideas came from my own hometown in the mountains of East Tennessee, and some events of racial violence that took place there. For the purposes of the novel, I conflated several events that actually happened about a year apart—including a riot in reaction to a racist court verdict, a cross-burning and a Ku Klux Klan road block—and put them in the same summer. Some of the characters were inspired by people from my hometown, but some were simply amalgamations of character traits I’ve found appealing or despicable or charming in the people around me. By taking actual events, I had a basic skeleton of an idea, and then felt free to fictionalize the narrative.

Tell us about the heroine. What is your favorite quality about Shelby?

Shelby Lenoir Maynard, known as Turtle to her friends, isn’t remarkably courageous or gorgeous or noble or possessing any of the traits of your typical heroine. But she has a basic stubbornness that she refuses to give in to the elements in her town who want to keep the world divided into “us” and “them.” As a pretty stubborn person myself, I guess I love the fact that sometimes this annoying and potentially ugly character trait can have its admirable side when its channeled into not giving up on situations or people.

Why did you decide to base the book in the summer of 1979?

This was around the time that several of the actual events, on which the book is drew its inspiration from, took place. Also it’s startling to a younger generation of readers, I’ve found, because it’s well past what we think of as the Civil Rights Era—it’s a time when things are supposed to be all peace and harmony on race relations, and the situation in the small-town South is far, far from that.

Do you base any of your characters or storylines on people, places, or events from your own life? If so, tell us more about the connections.

As I alluded to above, Blue Hole Back Home is, yes, inspired by some actual events in my own hometown. Interestingly, I don’t remember much talk about some of these events, including rioting over a terribly unfair, racially-biased court verdict, at that time—maybe because as teenagers, my friends and I were more focused on the next football game than the state of race relations and justice in the world. But since the book was published, I regularly hear from people who also recall various events around the KKK’s treatment of the Sri Lankan family who moved to our little town. It’s been fascinating to hear lots of different stories from folks who recall what they witnessed (such as a terrifying Klan rally back in the woods), or remember feeling like they didn’t know who to talk to about a frightening conversation they overheard. I think I’ve been haunted since age 16 by some of those events, and by my own inability to make sense of them for my Sri Lankan friend or for myself. I suppose when you’re haunted by something, that probably means it’s time to start writing about it.

What would you hope readers takeaway from Blue Hole Back Home?

Hmm, wonderful question. I hope the character Jimbo stays with them for a long time afterward, and what his ferocious hold on hope looks like. My faith tells me that hanging onto hope will look pretty foolish sometimes. Cynicism and skepticism look a lot more sophisticated, you know? I hope the book sort of turns the idea of foolishness on its head. I hope the story reminds us of the simple ways we let walls exist between groups of people, and the sometimes small, or sometimes enormously self-sacrificial acts that rock those walls and send them tumbling down.

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You can get Joy Jordan-Lake’s novel, Blue Hole Back Home on Vyrso for just 99 cents through Friday! Be sure to check-out all of our great fiction deals available for a limited time.

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Exclusive Q&A With Francis Chan

Francis Chan

If we don’t stare at God, we’ll spend our time staring at lesser things. Namely, ourselves.” —You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity

If you haven’t read Francis and Lisa Chan’s new ebook, You and Me Forever, you probably should.

This isn’t your average book on how to have a happy marriage. Co-authors and husband and wife duo Francis and Lisa Chan unpack an external focus for marriage, steering away from advice on how spouses can be happy with one another, and aiming to look at marriage as a mission with God at the center.

We had the chance to ask Francis Chan a few questions about the new ebook:

Tell us about how You and Me Forever developed. What was the inspiration for this book?

I’ve been convicted about this topic for the last five years. Lisa and I don’t fight and we don’t spend a lot of time reading marriage books,  yet we still have a great marriage and I’d been thinking —why has it been so easy? We realized it’s because we’ve been focused on the kingdom. We agree on eternity and focusing on that trumps everything else. It seems like a lot of couples are stuck. Maybe it’s that eternal focus that couples are missing—we want them to have that so they can enjoy marriage as God intended.

What’s one of your favorite Scriptures on marriage and why it is important to you?

Ephesians 5:28-30—The thought that Christ would consider me a member of his body is fascinating.  He has such an attachment to me. For example, if my finger is broken, of course I’m going to take care of it. And Christ thinks of me in that same way—of course, I’ll take care of Francis if he’s broken. And this is how I should view my wife, Lisa.

For your 20th wedding anniversary, you and Lisa decided to travel to Ethiopia. Tell us more about this trip—did it change your perspective on marriage and life together?

It didn’t really change our perspective on marriage that much. However, it increased our sense of urgency and helped to see our position of privilege, and how we can use that privilege to help others who don’t have it. We don’t want to be casual about it.

Learn more about how the Chans are helping support ministry projects through You and Me Forever.

If you could leave our readers with one piece of advice for their relationships what would it be?

Clear your mind as much as you can of all your preconceived understandings of marriage. Whether it’s from examples, advice, sermons, or personal preferences and desires. Take a fresh look at Scripture again to see what God prioritizes and what he says about the place of marriage in light of eternity. Then pray for the courage to make God-fearing changes even if no one else is doing those things.

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Get Francis and Lisa Chan’s new ebook, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, for just $1.99 through September 19!

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Learning to Be Led: A New Perspective on Leadership

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If you claim a leadership role of any kind, then you’ve probably been to a leadership seminar or two, maybe you’ve read some books to solidify your knowledge of good leadership. After a while though, those books and seminars begin to look and sound all too similar. Maybe it’s not the content though, maybe it’s our perspective on learning how to lead.

New to Vyrso

We’ve recently released 81 new titles on Vyrso as Rick Goossen’s Interviews with Entrepreneurial Leaders. Each of these interviews transcribes a conversation between Dr. Richard Goossen and someone in leadership, business, law, community development, or another highly relevant, entrepreneurial role.

Goossen is a decorated entrepreneur and leader on his own. For years he served as CEO of M & A Capital Corp.—a business advisory board. He’s written 3 books—some of which have been translated into six different languages! Goossen currently serves as a Relationship Manager and Strategic Advisor with Covenant Family Wealth Advisors in both Vancouver, B.C. and Toronto, Ontario.

Hearing the experience of entrepreneurs and leaders that have already forged their own path helps to give perspective on what did and didn’t work for them, so you can properly assess what may or may not work for you. Goossen understands that in order to lead, we must first know and understand how to be led.

So much wisdom can be taken from listening to respected and successful leaders like Anne Beiler (founder of Auntie Anne’s pretzels), Allan Burnett (minister at Stanley Park Chapels), or George Tidball (founder of McDonald’s Canada). Each interview from leaders like these and so many more are now available for only $0.99!

Looking to learn more?

If reading through these interviews gets you excited and ready to learn more about leadership from your new perspective, check out Goossen’s next conference coming up. The Entrepreneurial Leaders Organization is putting on a conference in Vancouver, B.C. this coming October 16-17, 2014 and in Toronto, Ontario on October 23, 2014.

Join the ranks of so many other Christian leaders and business people and get new leadership inspiration and know-how. And when you register for one of these two entire conferences, you’ll receive the Entrepreneurial Interview Bundle for free!

Register for the Entrepreneurial Leaders Conference today!

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How to Impress a Girl, Cook the Pefect Steak, and More: An Interview with Jonathan Catherman

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Today’s interview is with Jonathan Catherman—world traveler, speaker, and author of The Manual to Manhood.

1. What are the two biggest things that every guy wants?

At his core of every guy is looking for the same two things. They are hard to identify yet both can be difficult to gain. Simply put, every guy, no matter his age, wants to gain respect and avoid embarrassment.

2. In The Manual to Manhood, you offer a lot of practical advice with step-by-step instructions. How did you learn all of this knowledge?

I believe if I’m not learning I’m not truly living, and I love life. Life is built on many different experiences so I’m constantly looking for new ways to gain more experience. Wiser people than I taught me the value of learning by the, “SEE–DO–TEACH” method. When I “See” that I don’t know how to do something, like grill a steak, I find somebody to teach me. Then I practice doing it myself. Finally I secure my knowledge by teaching someone else. I’m still learning this way.

3. What is your favorite piece of advice to pass along and why?

My friends Jason and David Benham shared these words of wisdom: “Be a fountain, not a drain.” When I asked them to explain this advice they said it simply means that in any situation, try to give more than you expect to take away. Think about it—this is what keeps relationships healthy, teams winning, businesses profitable, and builds the kind of confidence people need to make meaningful life contributions.

4. In your book, you talk about the journeys and events that boys take to become men in different cultures. What is your favorite coming-of-age journey from the past, and how does it relate to becoming a man today?

One of my favorite coming-of-age journeys is from the Native American culture. In some tribes a boy become a man when he is separated from his people for several days and bravely survives on his own. He did this to prove his independence and maturity. It’s also important for guys today to demonstrate their independence and maturity. Yet many guys rely heavily on others to take care of their every need. A man in the making practices caring for his own needs. I’m not suggesting leaving home for a few days. Instead, guys need to learn how to take care of own needs, like cleaning up after themselves, fix-it projects, doing laundry, preparing real food, and how to act in ways that show he is maturing. When a guy knows how to take care of his basic needs he is establishing himself to one day set out on his own.

5. What are three keys to becoming a man of character?

Character takes a lifetime to build and can be broken in a second. Three key aspects of a strong lifelong character include:

  1. Living a principle-centered life.
  2. Doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reason even when no one is looking.
  3. Giving more than you expect to take away.

6. Why did you write The Manual to Manhood?

I started the book as a gift to my own sons, Reed and Cole. They are on their own journey of transformation from boys to men. The book is dedicated to them both. Additionally, I meet thousands of guys each year at my events, speaking engagements, and leadership trainings that lack some of the most basic life skills. It’s my hope that The Manual to Manhood will help them gain the respect all men desire and avoid the embarrassment all men fear. The world needs more good, capable, and confident men to lead families, communities, businesses, politics, faith, and all that life throws at guys. This book is a start for guys who want to build a solid foundation upon seemingly simple things so they can one day take on much greater levels of stewardship in life.

7. Why should teens—or grown men for that matter—read your book?
What would you say to a woman who is thinking about reading your book?

Contrary to a popular saying, practice does not make perfect. Practice will make you better. To the teen guys, grown men, and women alike who want to get better at doing real-life stuff and live in a way that empowers themselves and others than read The Manual to Manhood. Remember, those who can be trusted with the little things in life can be trusted with much more. You can trust that what you read in The Manual to Manhood will help you become more confident within and throughout life.

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Get Jonathan Catherman’s ebook, The Manual to Manhoodon Vyrso today for just $9.74 and learn 101 skills you’ll need to survive!

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UFOs, Conspiracies, and Biblical Theology: An Interview with Dr. Michael Heiser

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Today’s interview is with Dr. Michael Heiser, who is the academic editor for Logos Bible Software, Bible Study Magazine, and the Faithlife Study Bible. His latest book, The Portent, picks up where the cliffhanger ending of The Façade, left off.

1. For those who have not yet read the previous book, can you tell us a little about The Façade?

The plot of The Façade is driven by the fate of a team of scholars who were “recruited” for an above-top-secret project against their will by a mysterious cabal of military insiders referred to only as “the Group.” Comprised of experts in fields as diverse and unrelated as psychology, atmospheric science, bovine biochemistry, environmental biology, apocalyptic cults and militia groups, and the Hebrew Bible, the team is only told that they represent the last line of defense against a global climatic disaster.

In order to gain the team’s trust, the Group authorizes successive levels of disclosure and access to classified documents, technologies, and artifacts. But it soon becomes apparent that nothing is what it seems at their undisclosed location—and the reason they’ve been assembled is quite different than what they’ve been told. The Façade follows the team as they unpeel layer after layer of deception and counter-deception, heading toward a shocking revelation that will alter mankind’s perception of itself forever—if they can discern which lie to believe.

Fundamentally, The Façade asks two questions: (1) If humanity learned that intelligent extraterrestrial life existed and had been to earth, how would that impact traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs? (2) What if the beings everyone thought were extraterrestrial life were something worse?

2. For those who have read The Façade, what new things can they expect from The Portent?

The Portent picks up several months after the ending of The Façade. Brian and Melissa have managed to maintain anonymity in view of their circumstances at the end of The Façade. They’re trying to build new lives, while living in constant fear of exposure. But they’re in it together, and they’re absolutely committed to each other, though there’s a lot of personal uncertainty about what that means for the future. As readers of The Façade will know, they both have issues.

Eventually the unthinkable—but inevitable—happens. A series of seemingly disconnected and unanticipated events leaves them vulnerable to exposure, forcing them to make more life-altering decisions. One of the things I want readers to think about in The Portent is the role of providence in our lives. Brian and Melissa get caught up (again) in circumstances beyond their control that converge in both advantageous and deadly ways.

Like The Façade, the sequel takes readers into all sorts of subjects. For me, writing fiction is like writing a thesis. I do an enormous amount of research for all the elements in the story. Just like it was in The Façade, every ancient text, every quotation from historical figures, every academic study or journal article, and every government document in the story is real. The Portent takes readers into the intellectual roots of ancient astronaut theory (philosophical, religious, occult), technological achievements during the second world war and the Cold War era that are not part of mainstream knowledge, and true elements of Cold War conspiracy. But the sequel—along with its plot and sub-plots—involves much more. The Portent draws from serious scholarship in biblical studies, archaeology, Vedic studies (Indo-Aryan origins), astronomy, Nazi occultism, Gnosticism, Minoan studies, human migration, genetics, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology.

3. The word portent refers to something ominous coming in the future—an omen—why that title?

I picked the title because the plotline of The Portent gets into the future plans of the adversary introduced in The Façade. The Portent gave me an opportunity to put myself in the place of intelligent evil and ask how I might use common expectations and beliefs to accomplish my ends. How might I simultaneously confirm and undermine what people believe and think—and to what end? The agenda has something to do with the extraterrestrial and theological breadcrumb trails that were part of the storyline in The Façade.

4. What prompted you to write these books?

I’m interested in all the subjects touched on in The Façade and The Portent. They all connect to biblical theology and biblical history. Too many Christians isolate the Bible from other disciplines and subjects. I want Christians to see how theology and these other ideas are more inter-related than they suppose. I also want my readers to know that there’s a lot of mystery in the world. The truth really is often stranger than fiction, but sometimes it takes fiction to get people to realize that.

5. To what extent are the things described in these books based on reality?

As was the case with The Façade, all of the data points are real—historical figures, ancient texts, research that characters refer to, government programs and documents, etc. Readers often doubt this, so I’ve provided a pretty extensive bibliography. In the case of The Portent, all that data is available in a separate handbook, which is available through my website. I use the novel to connect the data points together in a story driven by fictional characters.

6. What would you like people to walk away with after reading The Portent?

I’d like them to see that Christian fiction can be intelligent and unpredictable. I want to challenge readers to think carefully about cutting-edge ideas and technology that will alter our perception of who we are, human destiny, and the role of faith in the future. I also want readers see that the spiritual world they think they know would be thought of quite differently if we viewed Scripture through ancient eyes. I use the discoveries, conspiracies, and technologies of the “black” world of the military industrial complex to help readers understand that the spiritual world is closer to us than we realize, emphasizing the importance of careful theological thinking.

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Pick up Dr. Heiser’s new book The Portent today! And if you haven’t read it yet, be sure to get The Façade to read first.

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Making Wise Choices: Thoughts on Choosing the Best Yes

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Today’s interview is with Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her new ebook The Best Yes, artfully paints a picture of how to make wise decision amidst a sea of endless choices. Get it on Vyrso today!

1. You have an impressive resume of accomplishments, and you’ve made a huge impact on thousands of people. Tell us more about the everyday you.

I just chuckled at “an impressive resume of accomplishments” because it makes me sound way more polished than I really am! At my core, I’m just a simple country girl who lives in North Carolina with my husband, Art, and my five priority blessings—Jackson, Mark, Hope, Ashley, and Brooke.

In my everyday life, I feel like a success if I get through the day having spent time with the Lord, exercised in some way, had a laugh with one of my kids, had clean underwear in my husband’s drawer when he needed them, and made a friend smile.

2. Why did you write your new book, The Best Yes?

I wrote this message because I NEED this message. I wrote it because I’m tired of rushing and stressing and missing out on the sweet parts of life. I always found myself saying, “I’ll do that thing that makes my soul come alive when I find time.” But no one in the history of the world has ever found more time or made more time.

We all get 168 hours a week. No more. No less. And too many of us are missing out on too much.

Honestly, when I set my life to the rhythm of rush, I don’t like who I am.

Rushing robs me of the sweetest parts of life—the parts of life that feed my soul. When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.

I’m tired of that deep ache. I think a lot of women are.

So with The Best Yes, I really want to help equip women to slow the rhythm of rush in their lives so the best of who they are can emerge.

3. What does it mean to become a “powerfully effective decision maker”?

A powerfully effective decision maker is a person who uses a combination of knowledge, insight, and discernment when faced with a decision. We must get into God’s Word and let God’s truth get into us (Philippians 1:9–10).

Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.

Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.

Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.

The Holy Spirit helps us remember that knowledge and insight so we can display it through good judgment in our everyday life decisions.

4. What’s your decision-making strategy for going through big life transitions?

I think it’s always good to use wisdom, knowledge, and an understanding of your resource capacity to assess your decisions.

For many situations, my husband and I run our decisions through these five questions that I talk about in the book:

• Do we have the resources to handle this along with our current responsibilities?
• Could this fit physically?
• Could this fit financially?
• Could this fit spiritually?
• Could this fit emotionally?

I’ve learned to really pay attention to my emotional capacity and be honest with myself when I’m stretched too thin. When I allow myself to get overloaded emotionally, which can happen so easily in big life transitions, the worst version of me emerges. And that’s not good for anyone. So this five-question filter helps us to be realistic when facing a decision.

5. How do you recommend parents teach their children to make wise decisions at school?

As parents, we need to get intentional with teaching our kids to think through their choices. But we must get intentional about modeling good choices as well.

Satan is a master of keeping the cost of our decisions hidden until it’s too late—for us and for our kids. Explain that to your child and consider age-appropriate examples of how costly wrong choices can be. Be real, raw and bold as you walk your children through different scenarios of temptations they might face.

Think how different life might be if we all paused and asked ourselves this crucial question: How much will this choice really cost me? If we teach ourselves and our kids nothing else today than to ask this one question, we will have invested wisely.

6. How do you choose “the best yes” when you have to decide between multiple good choices?

That’s a great question. More often than not, I find myself stuck between a good choice and another good choice, trying to figure out which one is perfect.

These good vs. good decisions happen every day. But when you’re trying to pick the perfect choice, here’s the secret answer: there is no perfect choice. If you understand this, it sets you free from the fear of making a mistake.

As long as you desire to please God with your decisions, no decision you make will be completely awful. Nor will any decision you make be completely awesome. Every decision carries a dose of both. Every thrill has an element of risk. Every leap of faith has moments of uncertainty. And every great success story has elements of failure.

In other words, since there is no perfect choice, I don’t have to be paralyzed by the fear that I’m not making the perfect choice.

But here’s where the certainty is: My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on his ability to use well. And I’m so thankful for that.

7. What are some of the hardest decisions you’ve ever had to make?

Discerning God’s will at different crucial steps in my life was so hard for so long. With all the needs in the world, how can I determine which ones are my assignments? Here’s what really helped me: making enough space in my day to really be able to pay attention to God.

Often we want big directional signs to God’s will. He just wants us to pay attention. The one who obeys God’s instruction today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.

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Learn what it means to make wise decisions while you are making thousands of choices everyday. Get Lysa’s new ebook, The Best Yes, on Vyrso today!

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Learning to Believe You’re Enough in an Insecure World

Kate Conner

Today’s interview is with Kate Conner, author of the viral post, “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls,” she is a wife, mother of three, and accomplished speaker and blogger. She has authored two new ebooks, Ten Things for Teen Girls and Enough which both eloquently communicate the true worth teenage girls have and equips parents to show their teen girls how much they’re loved and valued.

1. Your blog post, “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls,” went viral—what was that like? What sort of feedback did you get and how did you respond?

Going viral was like winning the lottery: surreal, then amazing, then overwhelming. All of our websites crashed for days. The response was unbelievable. I received thousands of comments, emails, and messages saying, “I wish someone had told me this 30 years ago,” and “This isn’t just for teenagers, this is for me.” I’d say 90% of the feedback was positive – but just 10% of 2,000 comments is still a whole lot of hateful things to read about yourself and your work.

I read and re-read my post asking myself if there was any truth behind what the critics were saying. Am I a misogynist? Do I blame women for their own harassment? Am I vain? Judgmental? Snobby? Desperate for attention?

I am able to stand by what I wrote because I actually believe it. I’m thankful that the books afford me the chance to clarify some sound bytes from the blog post that were confusing or offensive to people. No doubt some will still be offended, but at least they’ll be offended for the right reasons. Context is everything. I also learned to never read Reddit, ever, no matter what.

2. What were you like as a teenage girl and how does that affect how you speak to teens today?

I was chronically, compulsively shy until halfway through my sophomore year. I would have preferred to fail a test than to raise my hand and ask a question. There was a shift in the 10th grade. There was no watershed life event; I just slowly mustered the courage to start doing things I liked, even if they scared me all the way to death. I just kept saying yes and showing up. The more I took those little risks, the more I started coming into myself. I actually remember the moment, right down to what I was wearing, when I realized, “You know? I like me.”

The difference between the first and second half of high school for me cannot be overstated. I was like a different person. After that moment in the 10th grade, I was an always-there leader at church, I became an editor on yearbook staff (I started to enjoy writing in the 11th grade), I did really uncool things that I liked, like French club. I graduated surrounded by a pretty big, diverse group of friends. I didn’t do anything magical—I just decided I liked myself, and I showed up and was nice to people.

The things that changed the game for me in high school didn’t hinge solely on my relationship with God, but they weren’t independent of it either. It’s no coincidence that I went on a mission trip in the 9th grade which God used to restore joy and perspective in my life in a dramatic way. That trip set the stage. My faith was the foundation for the growth that happened over the next 4 years. Joy and humility freed me to like myself, and to love people, and to start being brave.

I want young women to fall in love with Jesus—to encounter him in such a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping, intimate, scary-awesome way that they are never the same. That happened to me. But I also want them to like themselves and be nice to people. Enough and 10 Things for Teen Girls are a mix of both of those things. The radical love and truths of Jesus and the practical social skills like how to not be annoying on Facebook. It’s both things together, because that was my experience.

3. I think now more than ever, teen girls feel insecure. They feel like they’ll never be pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough, or popular enough. How do these feelings start and how can young girls fight them?

In the first grade, I remember noticing that some of my friends were more petite than I was, and I wished I was like them. My daughter is in the first grade now—she’s six. I believe that these feelings are natural. By natural I mean a part of the human experience; they’re going to happen.

Insecurity takes root and becomes a problem when girls start thinking, “I’d be happier if I were more . . .” and when they start to think that “perfect” is the goal. We don’t try to eradicate their insecurities—that’s silly because it’s impossible. Instead we put insecurity in its place by modeling gratitude, passion, and joy. I think often about a Pinterest pin I saw that said, “Mother Teresa didn’t walk around worrying about her thighs. She had things to do.” I love that. Insecurities can only get the best of us when perfection and beauty and being adored become our goals.

The best way to combat rampant, crippling insecurity is to teach young women to care about bigger things than their own images and preferences. It’s on us grown-ups to teach this. As they watch us live, we show them that respecting our bodies is normal. Being thankful is normal. Finding and choosing joy is normal. Using our bodies as tools to do a job, instead of as shrines to physical beauty and sex appeal and fitness, is normal. My body needed to bear and feed babies, and it did. My body needs to help my neighbor move in, and it can. My hands need to feed people, and they can.

We’ve been trying to end insecurity by telling girls they’re “perfect just the way they are,” but it’s not working. Insecurity is part of the human experience, like grief and anger and sadness. It needs to be accepted and then put in its place. The solution to insecurity is the same as the solution to almost every other thing: love, gratitude, humility, community, grace, passion, perspective, and Jesus. Just look up.

4. You mentioned this briefly in your blog post, but pornography is seriously hurting the value men place on women, and women place on themselves. How can we begin alleviating the damage this is doing?

Oh my stars. This topic has been so normalized and so stigmatized that it’s nearly impossible to discuss with any kind of perspective. I feel raw when I think about this. I’m not going to discuss here why I think it’s damaging, and to whom, and in what circumstances, and in what ways. But I can tell you how I think we can alleviate some damage once it has been done and acknowledged. This is obviously not a long-term solution.

Here is one thing I would like to tell boys that have been hurt by pornography. Looking at porn does not make you a deviant, or an embarrassment, or a sex addict, or unredeemable. But don’t be naïve enough to think that the consumption of it does not affect the way you view women, sex, and intimacy. And don’t be naïve enough to think that the way you view those things won’t affect your real-life relationships. What you think will come out in how you act, always. You must recognize the attitude of entitlement implicit in pornography and fight like heck against it. You are not entitled to sex with a woman. The immediate gratification in porn does not exist in real life. Neither does the ability to search for exactly the woman, body type, hair color, or sex act you’re feeling in the mood for. Girls do not want you, or sex, all the time. They never owe you. They are not the prize you win at the end of the game, or the girl that always comes around at the end of the movie. Contrary to what porn implies, flirtation does not equal a desire to have sex. You are not entitled to sex every time you want it. I believe that the surest, safest, wisest way to protect yourself and your relationships—to demonstrate respect for women and to honor the emotional, relational component to intimacy—is to STEER CLEAR. WAY CLEAR.

Here is one thing I think we must teach girls that have been hurt by pornography. You can require emotional intimacy before sex. You can be desirable without “putting out.” You are worthy of love, not just attention. Being desired is not the same thing as being valued. You can insist on being valued. If a man pressures you for sex and cites his desire and “appreciation” of you as evidence that he values you, do not buy it. And do not confuse the two and find yourself, years down the road, feeling used and wondering why. The difference that value makes in a woman’s heart and mind cannot be overstated. The emotional component in intimacy is paramount—and it’s 100% absent in pornography. Do not manipulate men, relishing the ability to turn their brains to mush, when doing so means you’re being objectified. No matter what you get in return—a discount at the mechanic, a date, a pass on a speeding ticket—it’s not worth being devalued as a person. You are a whole person. You can insist that people see you and treat you as a whole person. Women are whole people, and the nature of pornography is to present them as less than such. I believe that the best way to insist on respect, value, love, honor, esteem, and real intimacy is to STEER CLEAR. WAY CLEAR.

5. How do a teen girl’s insecurities differ from a teen boy’s?

You know, I think they’re all the same deep down. People are people. We want to be enough. We want to be heard, seen, understood, validated. We want connection, passion and purpose. We want to be welcome, and liked. Culturally, “enough” looks different for boys and girls, and boys and girls often cope differently, but the insecurities are the same. We all want to be enough.

6. How can the church help empower today’s youth?

Start actually believing that God calls young people. Actually believe that they can do hard things. Listen to them; don’t dismiss their experience because you don’t understand it, or you think it can’t possibly be as bad or as dramatic as they’re saying. It probably is. Include them. Mentor them. Show up for them. It takes a village to raise a person, but we’re really bad at the village thing in 2014. Start building a village around them. Live like what you’re singing about is true.

When I was in college, I looked around and realized that I didn’t know many adults whose souls were on fire for Christ. I knew Christians, but not many “I will go anywhere, do anything, wholly surrendered” Christians. I resolved to be that kind of person, so that my children and the young people around me would know that spiritual zeal doesn’t have an expiration date. Press in and practice some real abiding, some real trust. Don’t minimize the gospel in your life—show young people what it looks like for an adult in middle-class America to hang their life on the gospel. They will notice. They will be encouraged, inspired, challenged and carried.

7. We all know that talking to teenagers can be difficult. What’s the first step in better connecting with them and getting them to open up?

Teenagers are people. So I read that question as, “What’s the first step in better connecting with anyone?” The answer is empathy—empathy to the zillionth power. You can’t just listen to a teenager and then jump in with your, “Yes, I hear you and I understand that you are mad, but. . . .” That’s dismissive.

If your interactions are 20% “I see and acknowledge you” and 80% “Here’s what I want to teach you,” you’ll get nowhere. With anyone. With your angsty co-worker, your difficult spouse, or your teenager.

We’ve got to flip it. 80% empathy, 20% teaching. Or maybe 90/10. Empathy eliminates defensiveness, it builds trust, it creates safe space. Anais Nin said, “You cannot save people, you can only love them.” However much empathy you think is appropriate, whatever your “I see where you’re coming from, BUT” disclaimer is, quadruple it.

8. You’ve said “follow your heart,” is the worst advice ever—why?

“Follow your heart” does not translate. I understand the spirit of it, but to a teenager, “Follow your heart” sounds an awful lot like “Do whatever you want the most” which is obviously problematic. Following your heart is all well and good until things get hard and you find yourself thinking, “My heart just isn’t in this anymore.” Our hearts are naturally selfish. They set off after things that are new and flashy, they are comfortable in places where we receive high praise or feel fulfilled and cozy. Our hearts change their minds a lot. I would substitute the word heart with passion, or dreams, or skills, or brain, or intuition, or sound advice. All of those things are great things to follow, and I address them all in my book. “Follow your heart” is vague. It’s incomplete advice at best, and at worst it’s a recipe for disaster.

9. What’s next for you?

I’m going to make dinner for my kids. Oh, you mean writing. There will be more books, definitely. Enough (and 10 Things for Teen Girls) was such a surprising project. The post struck a nerve and went viral without my planning—without my knowledge even—overnight. I am so thankful for it, because I was a gift. I could never have created something that touched so many people if I’d tried. Those books chose me, but now I get to choose the books. The proposal I’m working on now is the book I dreamed about writing when I thought about the possibility of being an author some day. And of course there will be blogging. I love blogging. I get to use ALL THE CAPS LOCK I WANT, SUCKA’S! And I get to say things like “sucka’s.” The interaction I get to have with readers is amazing, too; their feedback is often better than the post itself. I will be parenting, loving my neighbors, and writing. This season of my life is about those three things, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Discover what true worth really looks like and how teen girls can know how much they’re loved and valued in Kate’s new ebooks, Enough & 10 Things For Teen Girls, on Vyrso today!

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Never Too Late to Be Found: Treating the Wounds of Hurting People with Grace

Lost and Found

Today’s interview is with Sarah Jakes, a businesswoman, media personality, and author of the new book Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life. This memoir is a captivating look at Jakes’ journey, including her struggles with being a teen mom and the daughter of T.D. Jakes—a high-profile preacher. This honest and vulnerable story is a reminder that God can turn even the deepest pain into his perfection. Download her memoir and call to action, Lost and Found, today!

1. You said your story is “not always pretty.” What prompted you to share the life lessons you have experienced in Lost and Found?

I never set out to write a book. When I first started writing my blog, I started it as a source of healing for me. I started it as a place to release the pain I was going through dealing with infidelity and still fighting for my marriage. I started the blog as a place I could just tell my truth, and the more I blogged, the more people responded. I then realized that by being transparent and sharing my struggles, I was able to inspire other people, and together, we all started to dream again.

2. What have been some of the detours in your life?

I have faced a few detours in my life: having my son at age 14, getting married and divorced young, and even some of the choices I’ve made. But what I learned through it all is that the detours may make things more difficult, but they don’t make things impossible. I thought I couldn’t achieve success in my life because of past mistakes. I thought I had to create a perfect picture to present to God in order for him to use me, but what I found out what exactly opposite. God is using my life as an example to others that no matter how “lost” they may be, they can still be “found.”

3. In what ways do you mean you were “lost?”

I spent many years focusing on who I didn’t want to become. I knew because of the statistics that come with being a teen mother, I would have to be determined if I wanted to break the mold. I focused so intently on who I didn’t want to become that it became the only thing I could see. Unintentionally, I became everything I hoped I wouldn’t be. The most difficult thing about being lost is knowing you should have been somewhere else. I started grieving that I could never be that person, then one day decided I still had time to find my way.

4. How did living in the public eye affect you during these challenging times?

It was certainly challenging to go through some of the things I went through under the spotlight of the public eye. My father was continually rising. He was one of the most influential pastors in the country, so it certainly made it more difficult to be his daughter, 14 and pregnant. I still remember the murmurs of the people in the church and the shame I felt as they would talk about me as they passed by. It was even more challenging to go through a divorce with the public spotlight once again on my personal life. One thing I am really hoping people get from this book is that we need to treat the wounds of hurting people with grace, rather than infecting them with judgment.

5. You mention that the birth of your son “saved” you. Will you please explain that?

I loved my son more than I loved myself. His life grounded me. No matter how tempting becoming complacent seemed, I couldn’t deny that even if I didn’t feel like I deserved more out of life, I knew that he did. He and his sister, Makenzie, constantly remind me that I can’t stay lost. I want them to have the best possible start in life and I know that begins with loving myself and God, who gave them to me, fully.

6. How did you become found again?

I had to humble myself enough to admit I was lost. We get forced into playing this game where we all pretend to have it together, but suffer silently. I opened up little by little to the people who were in my life when I once felt the most whole. It was their reminder of who I used to be that made me miss myself. I missed laughing from the heart and smiling from the soul. I retraced my steps back to when I felt the most peace and updated it to fit my new reality.

7. You write, “No matter how lost you feel, it’s not too late.” Will you please explain what that means to you?

It is never too late to be “found.” As long as you still have life, you have another chance to get it together, to change your life, and to be found. Too often, we focus on our deficiencies, what we don’t have, or what we lack! It is time for us to stop focusing on what we don’t have and start focusing on what we DO have. We also allow people to put boundaries, expectations and definitions on us. I believe that we can revolutionize the way we do things, if we revolutionize the way we think. Who says a divorcée can’t be an author? Who says a teen mom can’t be successful? I say I can, and I say I will!

8. In the foreword, your father writes that you have become “a tool fit for the Master’s use.” In what ways do you partner with your parents in ministry?

I oversee the women’s ministry at The Potter’s House of Dallas, which is a church led by my parents, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Mrs. Serita Jakes. I also serve as the senior editor of eMotions, our digital magazine. I occasionally serve as a television host on The Potter’s Touch and a speaker at our conferences. It is amazing how God works because I also wanted to work with and support my parents, but I didn’t think I could because of my past mistakes.

9. How is Lost and Found more than a memoir, and who is it for?

Lost and Found is more than a book—it’s a call to action. It’s an opportunity for us to be more aware of the ways we engage one another, or more aware of the ways we treat each other. It’s an opportunity for us to be transparent and bare our scars, but it’s also an opportunity for others to handle them with care. Lost and Found is an opportunity for people to learn that no matter how bleak the situation is, they still have another opportunity to get it right.

Lost and Found is for everyone. It’s for teen moms who are trying to navigate motherhood and carve out a future for themselves and their children; it’s for men and women who are trying to redefine their lives; it’s for people who have failed at something in life and need the courage to try again. Lost and Found is for anyone who has ever felt lost at some point in their life. In a nutshell, it’s for everyone, and my hope is that it will inspire everyone who reads it to truly start living, celebrating, and enjoying their lives.

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Learn to dream, laugh, and hope again with Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life, Sarah Jakes’ inspirational new book. Get her story today!

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