Thursday, August 27, 2015

From Lettuce to Pages

PLEASE WELCOME SPECIAL GUEST BONNIE ENGSTROM




My spiritual journey:

I was brought up in a Lutheran church, became leader of the youth group when I was sixteen, married in another Lutheran church, had my first child baptized in one, then slacked off.

I have always loved the Lord, but mostly depended on Him because that’s what I was taught. When I was in my thirties, several friends coerced me to attend a non-denominational community Bible study where I met and became friends with women of all ages and where we dug into the Word. I loved that the older women mentored we younger ones; this was especially helpful to me since my mother died the year before my first child was born.

We lived in a tight knit community, almost like a small town. All of our kids were on teams together, and we parents all socialized with each other. One day I got a call from a dear friend that another friend’s three-year-old child was hospitalized with a serious heart condition. We decided to take action; we cut out big read hearts and printed a message on the backs explaining that if the heart was taped to a garage door, it meant that family was praying for little Michael. We paid tween boys a quarter each to distribute the hearts to almost 1200 homes. (This was over 30 years ago when a quarter was king.) Soon, our community was dotted with garage door hearts. Sweet little Michael died. But, knowing so many were praying for him gave his parents and brother support; and, the hearts drew people closer. This situation, and the hearts, drew me closer to the Lord. It was a significant part of my journey.

I now attend City of Grace Evangelical Christian Bible-teaching church and Bible study where I joyously, and comfortably, raise my hands in praise.

My call to write:

Simple. True. I was tearing up lettuce for a salad when I ‘heard’ in my soul “Write!” I left the lettuce and ran to my computer. Within days I had completed a non-fiction book about being part of an internet prayer chain. I switched to fiction after having read Deb Raney’s novels and after no editor or agent understood the concept of Internet or cyber prayer chains.

Why I wrote Butterfly Dreams:

I have no idea, except it must have been God-inspired. The concept, the characters and the story just popped into my head over five years ago. I just had an exceptional book signing for it, and I have begun a sequel.

A teaser about Butterfly Dreams:

Betsy is fifty-eight (widowed once, divorced once – from The Jerk) when she opens her friend Bett’s door for a guest. Tall, handsome, graying at the temples Noel with a chiseled face and a Romanesque nose looks down at her. “You must be one of Bett’s best kept secrets.” He says. Betsy’s knees wobble. Why would this man be interested in overweight her with the love handles and protruding derriere? Her mother, Harriet, reminds her that “Love is a gift at any age.” Is it?
Find out by reading Butterfly Dreams.



Bonnie Engstrom loves to write and she loves food, especially salad. (Well, sushi, too!) She used to love to cook, but since her husband semi-retired he took over as resident chef.  She grew up in Pittsburgh, he in Chicago, and they met in Washington, D.C when they attended George Washington University. They raised their children in Southern California (that is a separate state from Northern California, isn’t it?), so several of her stories are set in Newport Beach.

She and psychologist husband Dave of fifty years now live in Arizona. They are the parents of three grown children and the proud grandparents of six grandchildren, four of whom live in Scottsdale and two in Costa Rica on the beach! Pura Vida! Surf’s up!

The couple’s eldest son is an IT expert who taught his mother everything she knows about computer literacy. Unfortunately, he and his wife live in Maryland, too far to fly home for a weekend to help Mom as he used to when she lived in California and he in Arizona.

She loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted at bengstrom@hotmail.com (put BOOK in the subject line),
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bonnieengstromauthor?fref=ts or check out her website at www.bonnieengstrom.com. You can write to her at 8776 E. Shea Blvd., 106-528, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

She hopes, too, that you will check out her novel A Winning Recipe and her novella A Cup of Love, both available on Amazon. Almost everything she writes has an interwoven food or cooking theme. Fun!

For fun:
She asks that you answer one of these two questions to leave a comment to be entered into a random drawing for a free print copy of Butterfly Dreams. Be sure to leave your email address so she can contact you for your snail mail address.

* If circumstances arose (assuming you would be unencumbered), would you consider getting married (maybe again) at almost 60? What kind of wedding would you want?


* If you were in a position to have to support yourself (single, widowed, divorced, etc.), but have no specific education (like teacher, nurse) and you love to cook, would you consider becoming a chef/caterer? What kind of foods would you feature? Why?

Monday, August 24, 2015

AND NOT TO YIELD

And Not to Yield
Alfred Tennyson

Old age hath yet his honor and his toil:
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note may yet be done…
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are.
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The Sprint of Life

I watch the runners as they pour on new-found energy on the last lap of the race. They fall across the finish line in exhilarated exhaustion. I suppose Alfred Tennyson has it right. As we turn the corner of our last years, some hopeful energy, a striving for legacy, propels us forward.
  
There is so much of life yet to experience, knowledge yet to accumulate, wisdom yet to be gained. There are tasks yet to be completed that only I can do. 

I often joke that I’m still wondering what I’ll be when I grow up. And I expect I’ll ask St. Peter the same question when I meet him at Heaven’s gate.

Spiritually, I ask myself the same question.
 

When I was young, spiritual matters didn’t seem as important. I was pre-occupied with work, church activities, children athletic and school events, and the myriad pushups getting through each day.

Mid-way through my book of life, children leave home, and new chapters are written. Even then, the Pursuit of Holiness seems mystical and far reaching.


Then one-day, all too soon, I find myself much older. The term senior creeps into my everyday vocabulary. Knee replacements, dentures, cataract surgeries, and non-functioning hearing aids fill my worry list.

I find myself yearning for spiritual depth I had not considered in my younger years. I suppose the adage, “If I’d known then what I know now,” holds true even for spiritual development.

BENT AND SPENT, with life-long learning propelling me forward, I identify with St. Paul….pushing forward to finish my race AND NOT TO YIELD.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14 NIV).


Friday, August 21, 2015

BONNIE LEON WRITES TO ENCOURAGE THE DISABLED





My spiritual journey began on June 11, 1991 when a log truck barreled around a corner and overturned. After dumping the logs down an embankment the trailer smashed into the van I was driving. 

Little did I know a story was being birthed.

I was thankful to be alive, but my life changed in that moment and it’s never been the same.

I’ve had to learn how to live with chronic pain and disability. It’s an ongoing challenge for me and one that countless others live with. The experience of those first years spurred me on to reach out to people who suffer disability, but I was advised against writing a “how-to” book. I tried to shelve the idea, but it wouldn’t let go of me and begged to be written.

But how and what? 

One day the answer came to me—fiction. I write fiction. Why not create a story that shares the struggle of living in an altered state. A story about real people with real troubles. People who have lost hope of ever living a fulfilling life?

When I first came up with the idea I was excited and couldn’t wait to write it. My husband and I made a cross country trip to research places my characters might visit on their adventure together. Other projects pushed this one aside, however, and once again it found a place on the shelf. But it was never far from my thoughts, and finally, after years of waiting, I decided that nothing was going to get in the way of its being written.

 And here it is:



To Dance With Dolphins, the story of those real people with real troubles who seek to find a new life. 

I wanted the story to be honest, but not morose. And I wanted it to be encouraging, to lift up people who live with disability and to open the eyes and hearts of those who live alongside them.

Being me is not easy. Sometimes the pain is hard to endure, but worse than that is the loneliness that comes with being home-bound much of the time. It’s easy to get caught in a rut, and hard to climb out. But it’s not impossible. 


To Dance With Dolphins  the story of four friends who find a way out, who find a new path and learn to live with who they are.
It is my prayer that this story not only entertains but changes lives.

Back Cover Copy

Twenty-one-year-old Claire Murray has suffered from a mysterious disease for years. Her social circle has shrunk to a small support group for people with chronic illness and disability. But what if life could be about more than doctors, pain, and medications?



Claire and three others—old grouch Tom, hippy-holdout Willow, and moody Taylor—hatch plans for a cross-country trip to swim with the dolphins in Florida. Only a day into the trip, they unexpectedly need help. And who happens to be hitchhiking along the highway but a young, good-looking loner named Sean Sullivan? However, the last thing he wants is to be harnessed to a bunch of ailing travelers.



Though the journey proves difficult, following God’s plan might be even harder. Will they find the courage to follow their dreams and dare to live again?

ABOUT BONNIE

Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-one novels, including the newly released To Dance With Dolphins.  She and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon.  They have three grown children and eight grandchildren.


You can find Bonnie at http://www.bonnieleon.com


 



Friday, August 14, 2015

FAITH WORTH THE FIGHT


Please welcome my guest KATHERYN MADDOX HADDAD AND READ HER INSPIRING JOURNEY


Katheryn was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where you don’t have to shovel sunshine. She surrounds herself with her cacti, palm trees, and computer with the letters worn off.
She has a BA degree in English literature, history and Bible, part of an MA degree in Bible, and an MA Degree in Management. She spends half her day writing, and half her day teaching English to Muslims using the Bible as a text book. She has taught over 5000 Muslims, and has converts to Christianity in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Palestine and Uzebekistan. “They are my heroes” she says.
It was 58 years ago that I first started writing Soul Journey With the Real Jesus.  I’d been writing short blurbs (we didn’t call it that then, of course) and showing them to my girlfriends since I was probably twelve years old.
When I was seventeen, I wrote what ended up being my first two chapters on the life of Christ. It was about the crucifixion and written in the present tense. I showed it to my girlfriends and they said I should write the entire life of Christ. That was a surprise. I thought about it and finally told them I didn’t think I was old enough. I told them I would when I had done some living when I was sixty years old.
When I was sixty, I wrote it.  It covers 100 people Jesus met and struggled with Jesus. I dedicated it to everyone who has ever doubted. 
That done, I wrote many publishers, but never heard back from them. So I put it away in a closet and let it gather dust. Last year, 57 years after beginning the book, it was finally published. It turned out to be so long (some 2000 pages ~ well I had a long time to write it!) I divided it into eight books.
The eight books are (I) Star Song, (II) Dream Maker, (III) Hearts Afire, (IV) Folk Hero, (V) Flood Gates, (VI) Promise Keeper, (VII) Shadow of Death, (VIII) Come Fly With Me.  At the end of each chapter are “Life Application” questions.  It is available in large print. A child’s parallel version is also available.
BOOK SERIES BLURB
Come meet the people Jesus met. You are one of them. Probably you are several of them. Laugh, cry, do mental battle with them. Emotional battle too. Fight for your faith as they fought. Pause to listen for what you’ve never heard before. Then touch Jesus.
This is the story of faith in the impossible, hope in the inconceivable, love for the invincible. It is the dreams of youth, the desperations of infirmity, the hopes of age, and the song of eternity. It is the story of doubts explained away, animosities melted away, misunderstandings cleared away. It is your story and mine. For deep within each of us is everyone who ever met and struggled with Jesus.

Her website is inspirationsbykatheryn.com. Every morning she sends out an inspirational scripture thought to some 30,000 people worldwide. She has written twenty fiction and non-fiction books and is available to speak.

Monday, August 10, 2015

CANT HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER



                                 

 Someone said that to wait for inspiration before trying to write is like waiting for water to boil that has not been exposed to heat. Therefore, according to this thought, determination precedes inspiration. 

Then again, once inspired, it is easy to put the thought on hold and nothing comes of it. 

Like love and marriage says the song, "You can't have one without the other."

We refuse to be inspired because it may lead to disappointment. Both determination and inspiration are God's gifts, wonderfully inseparable. 




INSPIRATION



Doubt, like tumbleweed,

  Ensnares the vision

  Resistance like friction

  Ignites

Not a cleansing blaze—rather raging insecurity 

Confidence flees

Flames frolic

 Laughing in false victory

Heaven’s manna rains

  The inferno extinguished

  Inspiration leaps reborn



And so goes the cycle…the idea erupts like a volcano, spilling hot energy across my mind…until I sit down to actually write. I suppose it’s akin to climbing a mountain…something else I’m inspired to do until I actually come face to face with the sheer magnitude of the height before me.



Inspiration may be the spark, but perspiration is what gets the job done…grit and determination…and yet another inspiration:





Determination




Consider the squirrel.

who scurries through snow-covered grass

gathering a winter supply and

undeterred by chilly mornings

forages through autumn leaves   

The sparrow sleeps upon a branch

content within the fortress of his wings

shielded from the midnight rain

When morning breaks he sings his song

though none may hear its resonance

Even the slug continues on

his pace nearly stagnant

toward his mysterious destination 

Yet there is a scheme in his existence

If the Maker

created these so small

resilient to nature’s tempers

why do we worry 

when buffeted by the gale?

Are we not more than these?
 
 
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness (2 Cor 9:10 NIV)