Monday, January 27, 2014

Part 2 of my interview with author, Melinda Inman

So here is the Part 2 of my interview with author, Melinda Inman.  AND the book giveaway!

According to Melinda's author profile on Goodreads and Amazon:

Melinda Viergever Inman was raised in the tornado capital of the U.S. - Wakita, Oklahoma, of ‘Twister’ fame. There her parents met. There her roots were sunk in a storytelling family. During years of relocation, tragedy struck. Wounded and heartbroken, Melinda forsook her roots and ran from herself and from God. A journey of trial and heartache brought her home again. A prodigal now returned to her secure foundation, she writes with passion, illustrating God's love for wounded people as he makes beauty from ashes. Refuge is her first novel. Melinda shepherds women in church and in prison ministry. She writes inspirational material and bible studies. With her husband and family, she is involved in a church-planting ministry in India.”

Part 2 of our interview includes Melinda's concept of being a "prodigal," what it is like to be the parent of a prodigal and how the term "prodigal" actually can apply to all of us. 
I have to say that I love the insights she shares that apply to parents, but especially to moms who are involved in ministry. 


Would you be willing to expand a bit on how you would describe yourself as a prodigal?
I am a wounded and broken woman. Events happened in my young life that scarred and shaped me. I write to people who have experienced similar hurts. Most people don’t get through childhood unscathed. Since the first of January I’ve been sharing blog posts that introduce myself to my readers. The stories are there at On January 17, 20, 24, and 27, 2014, I have scheduled four consecutive posts that deal with the assaults that changed my world, how I responded by running away from God, and how the Lord has brought me back to himself. These first two months of 2014, I am sharing my life story in short blog posts two to three times a week. These accompany my life story video, which will soon be on my website. All the details are there in polished and visual form. I hope they comfort and encourage others who’ve been through similar trials. 

How about your son? Were you already involved in ministry (either by writing or otherwise) when you would say your son became a prodigal?  
First let me reassure the reader that I share nothing about my children without their permission. All of them are adults, and we have discussed my parameters for writing and interviews.
My husband and I have six human children. We are human. Every human is a sinner, and every sinner struggles with sin in their own individual way. All humans are prodigal in different degrees. A prodigal is fighting against God in some way, either because of circumstances beyond their control that have caused them to doubt God’s love or because of some entanglement in sin or both. Our natural tendency is to run away from God rather than toward him. I know I do, and it’s been by constant humbling and learning to rely on Jesus that I’m growing.
My children tend not to use “Christian-ese” when they talk about their lives. So they rarely use the word “prodigal,” preferring to talk more specifically about their attitudes and actions. To simplify I asked if I could use the term “prodigal,” and my two sons who felt that term applied to them individually said I could. They also said I could share their names, but I prefer to allow them to tell their own story. Both have returned to the Lord, love him, and are growing in godliness. I wrote Refuge as one of them was still running from God. I wanted him to know that God loved him and would forgive anything and everything he had done. I want everyone to know that—that is my core message. That truth changed my own life. It is what I proclaim.
Each son’s battle, like mine, was very personal and unique to them as was their return to the Savior. One had his difficult years starting when we were in the middle of our family decade of calamity. We were all staggering and beaten down by our life events, and it was difficult for us to perceive his pain clearly. The other had his hard years when we were in a position of leadership. My husband and I stepped away from some duties to be more available to him for encouragement day or night.
When we examine the father in the story of the prodigal son, he shows love in several ways. He lets go. He prays—watching for the son’s return. He waits. And he runs toward his son with open arms, not knowing that repentance is going to come out of his mouth. We try to love all our children like this, regardless of their circumstances. But because of our immaturity, it’s hard to love unconditionally. To have a God-like love, we had and still have a LOT to learn.
We have to release our own hypocrisy and legalism. We have to apologize for our mistakes in parenting, even for things for which we’d already asked their forgiveness. We have to help them to understand that our love for them is not performance based. We have to show it in our words and actions. We are growing in loving unconditionally and learning to trust God to do the work.
The most powerful tool we have as parents is to pray. One of my “prodigals” told me that when I talked about his need to repent, it made him resist the Holy Spirit who was already telling him the same thing. I certainly didn’t want to get in the Holy Spirit’s way, so I shut my mouth and never brought it up again! This opened my eyes to my pride about my part in their repentance. I tend to be arrogant. I wanted to bring this about myself! That’s prideful! God is the only one who can grant repentance. We take our hands off, we wait, we love, we watch, and we pray. We let God work. And he gets all the glory when he has won them.

Is it hard for you to share about your own children when you are involved in ministry?
Yes! There are so many lessons I’ve learned from my children, and I want to tell them all! Most of my growth has been produced by mothering them, by learning to love more selflessly, or by going through trial involving them, etc. But most of them are very private people. If some powerful fact about my transformation cannot be shared because my child doesn’t want it discussed publicly, I will not write or talk about it. If I’m ever in doubt, I ask them. I seek to respect their boundaries. But I had to learn this through many mistakes. When they were younger I told too much as I asked for prayer for our family or because I wanted people to understand our plight. As they grew older, they voiced their displeasure. I listened. Writers have to be very careful to respect the wishes of those they love.

Thanks, Melinda, for allowing me to interview you!  I can't wait for the release of your book, Refuge.  (March 25)

And speaking of book....I will have a signed copy of the book to give away!  And the winner is......
Amanda Hodge!

Congrats, Amanda!  Thank you for participating in the giveaway through the blog and facebook.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Part One of my Author Interview with Melinda Inman and a Book Giveaway

Thanks to a fun connection, (think: “friend of a friend” type-of-thing) I recently had the opportunity to interview author, speaker and teacher, Melinda Inman.  She was gracious to share with me information about her upcoming book, Refuge, about being involved in ministry and what the life of a writer looks like.  

I'm super excited to share this interview with you....and even more excited to give one of my blog readers a free copy of Melinda's book, Refuge, published by Koehler Books.  

Besides being a novelist, Melinda is involved in teaching through a prison ministry, she speaks at women's events and at Cru events(formerly Campus Crusade) and she leads women's Bible studies.  Melinda and her husband Tim have six children, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren.  

According to the official website of author, speaker and teacher, Melinda Inman:

Refuge is a tale of love, murder, revenge, and redemption, pulled from the oldest known source of drama—the Bible. Can we find God even after we’ve deliberately violated our consciences, wounded everyone we love, and committed an act that we feel is unforgivable?

Intent on total destruction, Satan notices Cain’s obsessive lust for Lilith and the dark roots of jealousy growing deep in his soul toward his do-gooder brother Abel. Satan goads him to the point of madness, barraging his mind with thoughts of hatred, lust, and futility. In a blinding rage, Cain wrecks everything. Wracked with shame, he flees into the vast wilderness, unable to possess the one thing he truly desires—Lilith. His life is destroyed, and he wonders if he will ever find his way back. He longs for refuge, and wonders if he will ever find God again? 

Here is the official book trailer:

And without further ado,  I’d like you to meet Melinda Inman!

How do you answer the question….is this a scary story? 
This is a scary story if you are uncomfortable considering the fact of spiritual warfare. We tried to capture that ominous truth visually with the book trailer. Two of the characters in the novel are God and Satan. Satan’s viewpoint is shown as he tries to entrap Cain and to destroy and bruise Adam and Eve and all of their family. In the novel readers see Satan’s machinations, his conversations with God (as in the book of Job), and the hierarchy of his demonic world. But the story’s emphasis is on the people in the novel. The characters struggle against temptation. After seeing scenes of what is happening in the spiritual realm, the reader then must determine how these realities are being carried out as they observe the characters’ thoughts and actions.  

What is the one message you hope readers take away from this story?
Everything I write is for broken and wounded people like myself. I want my readers to know that God loves them and no matter what they’ve done or what has been done to them, God’s love is a solid, never-changing fact. The Savior’s arms are open wide. He is willing to forgive and to heal the wounds our own sins—and the sins of others—produce in our lives. And he wants to make beauty of the ashes, to use even the hurtful things to produce good in our lives.

How much time (or how many years) are invested in researching and writing this story?
Because this first series of three novels (there are two others besides Refuge) are from Genesis and are, therefore, foundational, I spent about twenty years pondering, considering, studying, and researching. I had to study demonology—not something I ever thought I’d want to study, ancient history, ancient mythology, the problem of suffering, and biblical history. This involved serious Bible study. During the final eight years of my twenty-eight years of homeschooling, I converted our curriculum to a classical program. It was a joy to study these topics alongside my two youngest children as we studied through history, theology, and literature in chronological order. I had a lot of questions and pain I had to hammer out with God before I could start writing. 

What did you love about the official author interview?
It was a blast to film with the company doing my publicity work! The Christian men who comprise Nuu Church Media are fun to work with and are very insightful about the Christian life. It was wonderful to get to tell more of why I had written the story and to answer their questions that dug out that information. They helped me to feel comfortable talking publicly about difficult topics and the process of going from a broken girl to the woman I am now.

(To view the official author interview, click HERE)

What do you wish the official author interview would have conveyed…but didn’t?
Of course, in five minutes you can’t say everything you’d like to say. But no one wants to listen to a long interview. I had prepped for a very long list of questions, but then we only got to talk about a few things. I always have more to say!

What is/has been the hardest part about having a book published? Do you find it difficult as a writer to come out from behind your keyboard to share and be in the public eye?
It’s difficult to let go of total control of your manuscript, its shape, and the way it will be presented. But after you sign a contract it becomes a team effort. You, the publisher, and the editors are all working for the same thing, to produce a book that is “a work of art” as my publisher says. When you’ve been trying to get published for a long time, you’ve had sole control for a while. Sharing responsibility was and is challenging, especially for a perfectionist.
It’s also strange to be a “public” person. Someone stole my name and my picture and set up a fake social media account. That was creepy. I had to work behind the scenes to get that situation rectified. I try to be as available and open as possible while still guarding as much privacy as I am able. 

What is the next step for you? 
I’ll be marketing, marketing, and marketing some more. And I’ll be getting the next novel—Fallen—ready! I have editing and polishing to do! I have a yearly work schedule that I’ve followed since I started writing fiction in 2008. I start every day in God’s Word, but I only write Bible study material from July through January. I write or work on fiction from January through July. That’s usually how my work schedule goes, based on my church’s needs. This is January. I’m wrapping up the Bible study for 2 Timothy, which will soon be used in my church and will be for sale to others on my website. Once that’s done I’m starting on Fallen

Will you travel to speak on the subject of this book?
I hope so! There’s a potential speaking engagement in Colorado that’s being discussed. I have some radio and blog interviews scheduled (including this one! Thank you, Robin!). And I hope to schedule more of both of these. 

Is this book just one of many stories that you would like to share?
I have five novels written so far. Three are in the same series with Refuge. One is a historical about my great-grandparents early courtship and marriage in Oklahoma, and one is a modern novel. Some manuscripts are very polished. Some are very rough. I have more stories to tell.

Do you do public speaking of some sort? 
I teach in prison ministry every week. I speak at women’s events and at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade) events. I lead women’s Bible studies, and I co-lead a ministry with my husband. I have taught How to Study the Bible classes for teens. I’ve always done a lot of teaching in the home school co-ops I’ve been involved in. I used to be a childbirth education. I’m pretty comfortable talking about most subjects!

What is the daily life of a writer like?
People often ask me what I do all day, since I have so much “time.” I am a very busy woman. I never get my to-do list done. Every day unfinished work gets moved forward to the next day. Yes, my days are largely spent in the quiet of my home. But if I’m not hunched over my laptop writing, I’m reading, researching, marketing, emailing, or placing phone calls. If I have a difficult writing problem to work through a walk helps me sort it out. I pray through it, asking God what’s wrong, what I need to do to fix the passage, and how to go about it. I have exercise and eating scheduled on Outlook, so it will pop up and force me to take care of myself. When I’m working, I am so focused I forget. I keep working wondering why my stomach hurts until it dawns on me that it’s 4 p.m. and I forgot lunch. I’m tenacious about my work. I don’t watch television during the day. Ever. Nor do I eat bon-bons

Okay Write-On, Mom!'s your turn.  Want to win a free copy of Refuge?   I've got three ways for you to do that:

 When you do any one, or ALL THREE of these things, leave me a comment to let me know.  Each "Like" or "Friend" is worth a chance to win a copy of the book, Refuge

I'll post the winner's name next week when I share Part Two of our interview:  Melinda's thoughts on being a "prodigal."   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is it wrong to plan a wedding around a pair of shoes?

Is it?

We have the date set.  Loosely set.  Subject to change as we learn of football schedules.

Not that we would plan the biggest day of our lives around a high school football schedule.

College football comes into play too.  

So it is safe to say that we have the month of our wedding set.  Solid. 

Now we just have to figure out all of those little details that go along with weddings.  Like where, when and what kind of shoes I am gonna wear.

I'm not very good at organizing details.  

Is it wrong to plan a wedding ceremony around a pair of shoes? 

Of course I'm not really  talking about my shoes being the center of our wedding ceremony.

That would be as ridiculous as matching our colors to the high school football team or instead of booking a band for the reception, broadcasting the Iowa football game.  

Of course we want to plan our big day around the main characters in our lives.  We want all seven of our kids to be there, our parents and siblings, and if we can, we would like to invite our extended family and friends. 

But we can't really  invite people until we know where we are getting married, and where we get married depends on when we can get married and deciding when we can get married involves football schedules.

And for reasons I just don't understand...the right pair of shoes.

The fanciest pair I own right now have laces in them.  My favorite pair are of the flip-flop variety.

I think I need to hire a wedding planner.  I'm officially taking applications for the position. 

David Tutera would have a fit over all of this, don't you think?

Before our moms start to panic about just how tacky this will probably all end up turning out and be embarrassed about sharing the invites with their coffee clutches and Sunday school assured that I have not found an ordained football ref, secured a deposit on a tailgating venue or planned the wedding attire around a pair of flip-flops....


There's still time. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 17th Birthday, Nathan!

Brrrrr.  It's cold outside.  Like, FRIGID cold.

It wasn't like this 17 years ago. 
It was so warm that I think my brothers were golfing.  
I think it was somewhere near record-breaking warm temperatures.
But those aren't the numbers I think of when I think about this day 17 years ago.

23 hours, 10 pounds, 8 ounces and 21.5 inches are the numbers I associate with this day. 

The day that resulted in the greatest miracle God had ever blessed me with till then.  

The day that I learned that my heart could exist outside of my own body. 

The day God gave me you.

This is your baby picture with your bead-jar in front of it.  For the last 6 years, I have been taking out one bead for each day.  A reminder that you only get each day once; a reminder to make it count.  It was plum-full when we started this tradition. 

With only 365 beads left in the jar, it looks so empty. 

But I know that each bead we have taken out of the jar represents a full, rich heart-filled day. 

Usually on your birthday, I try to write to let you know how proud of you that I am, about milestones you have reached, things you have learned and some encouraging words to start of your new year.

I am so proud of you.
My baby boy is a young man.
The days of me lifting you up for a hug have long passed.
You have to lean down to give me a hug.

You have been through a lot.  Faced with a lot.
And you have taught me a lot.

You have shown me with a grace and maturity beyond your years what it looks like to mourn over a lost dream, then to dust yourself off, and go after a new one. 

You are a testament to the idea that sometimes the dream you wouldn't have chosen for yourself at first, can be the exact one that you needed.  

6,205 days ago, I became a mama.
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

In 365 days, the job as I know it will be changing.
And I still don't know what I'm doing.

But I do know this:  There are still 365 beads in that jar.  I feel as if I am gradually working myself out of a job.  But I still intend to make each day that I do have count. I know that you will spend much of the next year or so making decisions about what will happen after high school.  Where and what you will study, among other things.  

My hope is that you will enjoy the transition from this chapter of your life to the next, and not try to rush through it.

Because someday, you will look back at this time and remember how fast it went.  

Trust me.

I have no idea where the last 17 years have gone,
but I sure am proud of what they have added up to.

Happy Birthday, Nathan.
Mama loves you.